Farm drought recognition sought

By Mike Barrington

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The trust's rural co-ordinator, Julie Jonker, left, said MPI had not been asked to declare a medium-scale adverse event because the area affected was local. Photo / John Stone
The trust's rural co-ordinator, Julie Jonker, left, said MPI had not been asked to declare a medium-scale adverse event because the area affected was local. Photo / John Stone

Northland councils have been asked to recognise the plight of west coast farms which are in the grip of their fourth drought in five years but don't qualify for Government help.

Morale is falling as, despite their best efforts, feed is becoming scarce. Autumn calving is less than a month away so the situation is serious.

The Northland Rural Support Trust says pasture is either scarce or non-existent on the west coast and, because of a poor spring, less pasture supplements were made than usual.

There is no real rain on the horizon. The MetService is forecasting sunshine and 21C for Dargaville today, a cloudy weekend with similar temperatures, a few showers on Monday and Tuesday, then more sun and rising temperatures for the rest of next week until more showers with 23C temperatures on March 15.

The trust has been in close contact with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) as the dry conditions have closed in without relief on the west coast since January.

But the trust's rural co-ordinator, Julie Jonker, said MPI had not been asked to declare a medium-scale adverse event because the area affected was local - one part of the region - and therefore would not meet the criteria for a drought declaration.

The trust had asked local councils to acknowledge the west coast farmers were dealing with yet another drought.

Ms Jonker said this would not provide recovery assistance for farmers or funding for the trust, but it would acknowledge the situation and let west coast farmers know the community recognised the challenges they faced.

The trust had experienced agfacilitators available to advise affected farmers, she said.

The trust was also willing to link farmers in the north-east who may have grazing with west coast farmers who needed to get stock off their properties.

Farmers are advised to call the trust on 0800 787 254 to talk to an agfacilitator or if they have or require grazing.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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