Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has officially declared drought conditions on the east coast of the South Island as being a "medium-scale adverse event".

The declaration, which will trigger Government support for farmers, covers parts of Otago, Canterbury and the Marlborough district.

"Most farmers have coped so far by destocking and using feed supplies, and most will not need extra support," he said in a statement. "However it's clear that conditions are only going to get tougher as the seasons change and we need to prepare now," he said.

Local groups, including Rural Support Trusts and Federated Farmers, have acknowledged the need of medium scale recovery measures to deal with the consequence of the drought.

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Extra Government funding will now be available to Rural Support Trusts, who work closely with farmers, providing support and guidance.

Rural assistance payments will also be made available in the next few months through from Work and Income, through the Ministry of Social Development.

Support is already available from Government agencies in all regions, Guy said.
Farmers should contact the IRD if they need help or flexibility with making tax payments, and standard hardship assistance is available from Work and Income.

"Federated Farmers have started their feedline to coordinate supplies, and it's pleasing to see some banks offering special packages," Guy said.

Guy made the announcement today at Opuha Dam in South Canterbury, which will run dry in the next few weeks without rain.

Guy says the Government is also keeping a very close eye on Wairarapa and southern Hawkes Bay which are also suffering from very dry conditions.