Aid for farmers as big dry' drags on

A Waikato Regional Drought Committee has been formed to help manage the response to dry weather conditions in the region which have been causing significant problems for farmers and led to water restrictions.

Waikato Regional Council chairman Peter Buckley says the committee wants to make sure the situation is managed tightly and is ready to ramp up the response as required.

"This committee will help us work together to make sure we get the right mechanisms in place to provide support to those affected in a timely way."

The meeting was attended by central government and council officials, Federated Farmers, the Rural Support Trust, Dairy NZ and representatives from other organisations.

Members heard that climatic conditions were, in many Waikato areas, on par with the drought of 2008, with lower than normal rainfall and soil moisture and low river flows.

However, there were a range of comments suggesting that, while many farmers were under significant stress, the farmer welfare situation wasn't as bad as in 2008, with more feed having been available.

"Everyone recognises the stress that farmers are under and the potential need to increase support measures if the dry weather continues," said Mr Buckley.

"We'll review the situation at another committee meeting in a week's time or earlier if required."

In the meantime, farmers are being advised to approach the Rural Support Trust, their bank or WINZ if they are facing problems. They are also being advised to follow the dry weather advice of their industry organisations such as Dairy NZ.

"Another important thing is for farmers to support farmers by keeping an eye on their neighbours and helping each other out during these tough times.

"We've seen a number of droughts and dry spells in the region in recent years and it's important that we all work together to manage our way through them,' said Mr Buckley.

- Hamilton News

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