Northland farming advocates say the $80,000 package for drought-stricken farmers is a good start but it won't go directly to farmers. On Tuesday Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor declared a medium-scale adverse weather event for all areas north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge after months monitoring the situation.
• Northland farming leader calls on Govt to declare a drought
• Government declares drought in Northland and parts of Auckland
• Damien O'Connor monitors dry conditions in fear of drought in regions
• Drought declared in Northland- at last- and 80k in government assistance
His decision followed advice from the Rural Adverse Events Team earlier that day for a declaration to be made given the continued hot, dry and windy conditions across Northland.
O'Connor also announced $80,000 in government support to help the Northland Rural Support Trust to facilitate recovery, run events to help get farmers off-farm and reduce isolation, provide education and technical advice for farmers, and provide one-to-one care as needed.
It can also give access to social welfare for those in extreme hardship, and increased flexibility with Inland Revenue.
Northland Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Julie Jonker said the $80,0000 of funding was a good start.
"People misunderstand what that means. That's not the amount of funding which will be received by farmers. That's the amount of funding which is to co-ordinate relief efforts," she said.
Northland Federated Farmers president John Blackwell said the funding was enough to get the Northland Rural Support Trust going.
"More would definitely be nice but you've got to remember this is a start. And we've been recognised now and that's great."
A spokesman for O'Connor said the $80,000 can be topped up if needed.
"The Ministry for Primary Industries will continue to assess needs as the situation develops.
"Despite the challenges, the majority of farmers and growers are coping reasonably well. People are making the hard decisions needed on culling stock, purchasing feed, prioritising crops, and switching to once-a-day milking," he said.
Inland Revenue is supporting farmers affected by the drought by exercising discretion to allow late deposits and early withdrawal from the income equalisation scheme.
Meanwhile, ANZ has announced it will provide an assistance package that offers impacted customers the ability to discuss options - which include applying for short-term funding to help farmers manage unexpected costs arising from extreme weather, and suspending or reducing loan principal repayments - with their ANZ relationship manager.
Blackwell said the drought could have a huge impact on the mental health of farmers.
"If you're under stress and barely keeping up the interest to your bank and you get a drought - they are the ones that may go to ground because they don't want to alert that they're in a bit of trouble and this might be enough to tip them over and that can have a huge mental impact."
Jonker said the declaration of drought was significant.
"It's significance is not only psychological - yes okay, people are recognising that it is particularly dry. But there are people who will need to use portions of their contract - there's a thing called a force majeure in the contract - which means if they're unable to do what they need to do the contract will allow them an out as opposed to being penalised."
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately.
OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
• 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 or TEXT 4202