Committee calls on Govt to declare Waikato drought

By Kate Shuttleworth

A dry paddock on Baverstock Rd, Hamilton. Photo / Christine Cornege
A dry paddock on Baverstock Rd, Hamilton. Photo / Christine Cornege

The Waikato drought committee will call on the Government tomorrow to officially declare the region in drought, Waikato Regional Council chairman Peter Buckley says.

He says the situation has grown increasingly critical since its drought committee met last week.

Mr Buckley said farmers contacted him saying they were facing hardships, including dairy farmers who had stopped milking.

He said the number of members involved in the drought committee had grown, and the group would call on the Government to issue an official drought declaration.

The drought committee, which includes Dairy NZ, the Bank of New Zealand, Ministry of Primary Industries, Mighty River Power, Rural Support Trust, Ministry of Social Development and Federated Farmers, met last week.

The committee was formed last week to support the rural community as drought conditions worsened.

Mr Buckley urged struggling Waikato farmers to approach the Rural Support Trust, their bank, Work and Income New Zealand and the Inland Revenue Department.

He said getting in contract with those organisations before the situation got dire would help.

Yesterday Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy declared Northland is in a state of drought.

The announcement means extra government funding will be available for farmers in severe hardship, and further declarations of drought in other areas are expected to follow.

He said the Government was closely watching Waikato and Hawkes Bay.

Hawkes Bay could ask for help when its committee meets on Tuesday.

- APNZ

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