14 May 2015

Canterbury drought 'keeps going on and on'

4:31 pm on 14 May 2015

Farmers in north Canterbury are facing a two to three year recovery as a result of the ongoing drought.

Rain is beginning to provide relief for Otago, Marlborough and parts of Canterbury that were in drought, but Cheviot is missing out.

Drought conditions in mid-Canterbury, January 2015

Drought conditions in mid-Canterbury, January 2015 Photo: Jeremy Talbot

Concern about the financial implications of the drought is growing, because many farmers have had to sell capital stock, while others are worried about the winter feed situation.

A mixed cropping, sheep and beef farmer near Cheviot, who is also a Hurunui District Councillor, Vincent Daly, said the region had had no significant rain since the new year.

He said the region has run out of grain, all his crops have been sold locally, and farmers were struggling to grow any other feed at all.

"I just look at our neighbours and it just worries me so much, they're just dirt really.

"I've been farming all my life in the district, and I think in 1967-68 we had quite a bad drought, but this one's shaping up to be a lot worse."

"I've been talking to some of the agents, and they've been measuring dry land fodder beet crops, which they say is going to be the answer, and they're getting six, seven, eight tonnes - which would hardly pay the cost of growing it. A lot of kale crops have not even grown."

Mr Daly said it would be a scary time for some people.

"It just keeps going on and on - a drought sort of just keeps creeping, doesn't it? The effects of it are going to be long-lasting, it's going to take people two to three years to recover from it," he says.

A farmer at Gore Bay, on the coast just out of Cheviot, John Sorenson, said it was the driest he had ever seen.

He said farmers were coping, but people were beginning to show signs of strain.

"I was going down the road the other day and there were two local farmers who are probably just as affected by the drought as anybody, and instead of being downcast, they were very philosophical.

"One of the guys said, 'my dad always said it always rains after a dry spell', but you could tell that they were saying it through gritted teeth, you know - the old philosophy was running a bit thin."

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