Rain drought. Stock feed drought. Jobs drought.
Hawke's Bay's core strengths are our people, our land and our climate.
We have great people and fantastic growing soil, but unfortunately this year we have not had nearly enough rain. And that risks our region's income and jobs.
As welcome as the emerging green tinge on Te Mata from the recent rain is, sadly it is now going to get too cold to get decent grass growth to feed farm animals through winter.
In fact we have only had about one third of our normal rainfall over the past three months, and the months before that were dryer than usual as well.
Just like lawns and gardens in town, farms need sun to warm the ground, regular moisture and fertile soil.
We often have dry periods and our farmers know how to work through them, but this year is a long way from being normal. It is our worst recorded drought.
That rain drought is about to turn into a feed drought, with the effects felt across Hastings, Napier and Central Hawke's Bay over at least the next two years.
That is because our primary sector not only supports our farming families; it drives our manufacturing industry and contributes across our economy, from transport and rural support services to finance and retail.
The equation goes like this: our farmers across the Bay are unable to feed their animals so have to send breeding stock to the works.
When spring arrives they will have less stock to breed from and less stock to sell.
In turn there will be less meat coming out of the works to be on-sold, both domestically and to the export market. And so it goes on. To put it simply, there could well be job losses across Hawke's Bay because of the drought.
And then there is the effect on individual families. They are not just "farmers"; they are families and friends who are doing their absolute best to not only cope with the fall-out from Covid-19 but to survive the drought.
Unless we can get animal feed to our farms in Hawke's Bay, those families' futures, our regional income, and jobs across Hastings and Napier will be at risk.
But it is a problem we can manage.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council, our partner councils and Government have contributed $1m to help source and transport stock feed to get Hawke's Bay through winter.
We have to move very fast to secure supply as we are competing with many other North Island regions in drought, which are also looking for feed.
Hawke's Bay has gone through droughts before, and we will get through this one. We can minimise the depth of economic and social hurt if we take action.
So let's keep working to do all we can, across our councils, Government and community, to help the absolute core strength of Hawke's Bay - our people.
- Craig Foss is a Hawke's Bay Regional councillor