Bay farms still in sorry state after the deluge

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Drought-relief provisions for farmers will continue until the end of September, the Government says.

The Cabinet had an update on the drought from the Ministry for Primary Industries yesterday and Hawke's Bay remained in a severe condition.

A week of sometimes heavy rain had been great news for many farmers, but support was still needed, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said.

"The dry spell may be over in many parts of the country but there are still major challenges ahead. It will take time to build up enough grass cover to provide feed for winter," Mr Guy said.

Rural-assistance payments have been granted to 72 applicants.

They are paid at a rate equivalent to the unemployment benefit to farmers and their families in severe hardship. They are means, and asset, tested.

Conditions remain tough for farmers in the Hauraki-Coromandel, Rangitikei and Waikato regions. Mr Guy said a decision on lifting the drought status in some regions would not be made until at least the end of the month.

Federated Farmers adverse-events spokeswoman Katie Milne said the hardest times for drought-stricken farms were coming as winter approached.

"We've got some growth right now, but we go into a slow growth period in winter," Ms Milne said.

"There won't be enough grass in the system to cover winter."

The West Coast dairy farmer said farmers had to use a lot of the silage they had stored up last year.

"There's still a big hurdle to get over in June and July."

More farmers would be likely to take up assistance during winter.

"As the rain comes, it's doesn't simply end the drought," she said.



- Hawkes Bay Today

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