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Welcome relief for drought-affected farmers

Federated Farmers Wairarapa president William Beetham said water was the main concern in Wairarapa as dams for stock water have started to run dry. PHOTOS/FILE

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The Government’s declaration that the entire North Island, as well as parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, are drought affected will bring $2 million in funding to support farmers and rural communities.

But without rain in the next month or so, Wairarapa farmers remain under pressure with the next challenge finding feed over the winter months.

Federated Farmers Wairarapa president William Beetham commended the government for taking action in defining the drought as a large-scale event.

“While Wairarapa is seriously affected, because other areas are also impacted to varying degrees, it puts significant demand on all resources for farming and rural communities,” he said.

Declaring the drought to be a large-scale adverse event freed up $2 million to support farmers and growers until June 2021.

This package included drought co-ordinators, a feed working group, animal welfare information, recovery advice and $90,000 towards psychosocial support in Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay.

William Beetham

Beetham said water was the main concern in Wairarapa as dams for stock water started to run dry, and even rural households battled for enough water.

If rain doesn’t come soon though, feed and winter growing conditions will also be challenging, he said.

“Whilst you can still buy baleage in Wairarapa it’s going to be scarcer and buying supplementary feed is going to be harder.

“Most of Wairarapa farming systems operate on winter pastural grass fed systems, so if we don’t grow any grass before it gets cold, there are going to be some serious concerns in winter.”

The widespread nature of the drought meant finding alternative grazing over the winter months would also be challenging, he said.

To date the government has provided more than $300,000 to support drought-stricken regions, including $150,000 split among the Gisborne, Manawatu, Rangitikei, and Tararua districts.

The last large-scale adverse event classification for drought was in 2013.

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