24 Jan 2011

Rain good news for North Island farmers

6:16 pm on 24 January 2011

Federated Farmers say the weekend's heavy rain could enable the drought status to be lifted in some regions.

Northland, North Auckland, Waikato and Ruapehu were declared drought zones in December last year.

Over the weekend the regions received between 100mm and 300mm of rain, and farmers say this has put the season back on track.

Kaipara farmer Bill Guest says it is the second large dumping of rain in Northland in past five weeks, after nearly 200mm fell in the region just before Christmas. He says if the region receives further rain over the next two days, it will set farms up through to March.

Federated Farmers' Waikato president Stewart Wadey says the downpour has broken the drought in the region and the regional drought committee will consider on Thursday whether to recommend that the Government lift the drought status.

Federated Farmers' Ruapehu president Lyn Neeson says she will advise its Rural Support Trust that the drought has probably been broken.

But Federated Farmers in Auckland and the Rural Support Trust in Northland say further consultation is needed before they are ready to declare that the drought is over.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's national adverse events committee will meet next week to consider the status of all North Island regions affected by drought.

Taranaki farmers need more rain

In the Taranaki region, however, farmers are still thirsty for more rain.

The region's Federated Farmers president, Peter Adamski, who farms at New Plymouth, says most areas received up to 80mm of rain but more is needed to boost pasture growth and break the dry conditions.

Mr Adamski says the Taranaki rural support trust will meet on Tuesday to discuss what the latest conditions mean for the region's pending application to the Government for drought relief.

Other parts of the North Island including Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa were also getting extremely dry.

Federated Farmers' Bay of Plenty president John Scrimgeour says the rain couldn't have come at a better time.

He says some farmers had to move stock to higher ground with some low-lying properties suffering surface flooding.