Farmers struggle in drought

By Amy McGillivray


The dry weather is hurting Western Bay farmers financially but help could be on the way.

A state of drought was officially declared throughout the Bay of Plenty yesterday and Federated Farmers provincial president John Scrimgeour said the deepening crisis was taking a toll on farmers.

"Right now is a very stressful time for farmers [because of] the lack of feed for the stock and the uncertainty. We are living in bit of a limbo land. There's the financial worry. The income is down and costs are up."

Mr Scrimgeour welcomed the extra assistance now available through the Rural Support Trust and Work and Income.

"It's definitely needed. It makes farmers feel that they are on a footing with the rest of the North Island and that their concerns are being taken seriously and that the Ministry for Primary Industries is wanting to help," Mr Scrimgeour said.

Most farmers were having to dig into their winter stockpile, reduce cattle numbers and cut down to milking once a day.

Milk production in February was down about 10 per cent on the same time last year.

Mr Scrimgeour's share milker, Jeff Going, said he had held out longer than most but was about to drop back to milking once a day.

"'It's probably going to start passing the problem on to the next season from now on if we don't get any rain," he said.

MetService forecaster Dan Corbett said the coming days would bring more dry weather.

The high which had covered the country would begin to break up next week making room for low fronts to push through but no rain was on the radar for the next 10 days.

Mr Corbett said rainfall figures for March were likely to be slightly lower than usual but come April, the usual winter wind and rain would return.


ASSISTANCE



  • Work and Income: Provide assistance to farmers struggling to meet personal expenses


  • Rural Support Trust: Offer advice and counselling and sponsorship of morale boosting events


  • IRD: Can arrange for flexibility with making tax payments



 

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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