Editorial: Farmers need help - and rain

By Andrew Austin

The reports that Hawke's Bay could be declared a drought region this week is good and bad news.

It is bad news because conditions are so dry, but good news because help is at hand.

The Government has already come to Northland's aid and has hinted that the Bay and Waikato are next.

Our province's drought committee meets tomorrow and could go to the Government for help.

It is not a moment too soon. Farmers we have spoken to in the region say it is drier than they have seen it for years.

The good thing about being declared a drought area is that that much-needed funds will be channelled from central government to help those who need it. When an area becomes a drought region, farmers in severe hardship receive extra government funding.

Some people have been predicting this drought for a long time. Even during the heavy rains at the end of winter last year, some scientists were saying drought was on its way.

One thing is sure, the summer has been marvellous. It has been good to be able to get out and enjoy the wonderful landscape that is the Bay.

However, none of us wants the hot weather to be at the expense of our region's productivity and economic viability.

You only have to look at your own garden to realise that rain is desperately needed. Even if it rains this week, as predicted, it still probably won't be enough to top up water tanks and penetrate dry soil. The rainfall figures for last month are quite scary, with more than half the nation recording less than 25 millimetres. Napier recorded only 14.2 millimetres during this period.

What we need is help for affected farmers and then rain, plenty of it.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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