Drought declared for Bay of Plenty
Wednesday, 6 March 2013 3:00 p.m.
The drought declared throughout the Bay of Plenty today means official recognition of the very dry conditions and gives farmers access to more support, the Bay of Plenty Rural Support Trust says.
Chairman Derek Spratt said weeks of fine weather had left pastures parched and farmers anxious, and continuing dry conditions had potential repercussions for the region's economic outlook.
The declaration enables farmers to apply for Work and Income assistance if they have difficulty in meeting personal expenses and applies to the whole of the Bay of Plenty, which includes about 800 dairy farms and 500 meat and wool farmers.
Mr Spratt said the Rural Support Trust was able to sponsor events to improve morale, and employ a Recovery Facilitator who could work with farmers wanting to apply for assistance, including counselling.
The drought declaration also meant farmers could meet with industry organisations and get information about how to manage their farms in the dry conditions.
"The lack of rain is affecting their production, and their grass is disappearing fast. Farmers are very conscious of animal welfare and are using all their feed, supplementing with hay and silage which means nothing left for winter. They are selling off any animals they don't need," he said.
Mr Spratt said his farm at Pukehina had had about 8mm of rain yesterday which was very welcome, but not enough to ease the situation. No more rain was predicted until mid-March.
"We need close to 70 to 100 mm to get the soil deficit levels back up."
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