Waikato farmers to seek declaration of medium-scale drought

By Kieran Campbell

Photo / Greg Bowker
Photo / Greg Bowker

Waikato farmers have agreed to ask the Government to declare a medium-scale drought for the region and open up financial assistance to families struggling to pay for food.

Waikato Regional Council chairman Peter Buckley said a meeting this afternoon of the region's drought committee voted unanimously to call for a drought to be declared.

It comes two days after Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy declared a drought in Northland after farmers there voted on Tuesday to seek Government assistance.

Waikato Hauraki Coromandel Rural Support Trust chairman Neil Bateup said income had completely ceased for some farmers and many more faced uncertain months.

"Certainly they've probably reached a point where their expenses are going to be above their income for the next month, particularly dairy farmers," Mr Bateup said.

"Then they will have no income for two or three months, they will financially be very, very stretched."

He defended how long it had taken for the drought committee to seek support from the Government, saying conditions had worsened considerably in recent weeks.

"I guess they've probably been holding out hope for rain for a while, thinking it's a dry period, it's got to come right. I think the realisation now is that it is going to affect their income for the rest of the season and the next season," Mr Bateup said.

"It is stressful for them, and farmers actually don't like asking for help like that. Farmers are proud people and there aren't that many that come forward actually."

- APNZ

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