Comment: Federated Farmers Vice President Andrew Hoggard writes on the benefits of water storage.

The Government has declared an "adverse event" for the drought conditions across the North Island and a decent chunk of the South, including the Chathams. You'd have to think things get pretty grim there when they run out of water.

While it's obviously good news that the Government is prepared to listen to what people from rural communities are saying, and appreciate how challenging it is to live with rapidly diminishing water supplies, we've also got to ask ourselves if these "short term" style fixes are sustainable.

The Government announced upwards of $12 million worth of emergency measures to help rural communities last week, which is appreciated. But do we really want to be doing this every year?


This Government was not keen on continuing with government-supported water storage projects but surely they'd rather take an interest in supporting community-based projects than dish out great amounts of cash every year that gets spent on tankers carrying water up and down Auckland's motorway?

Andrew Hoggard, Vice-President, Federated Farmers. Photo / Supplied
Andrew Hoggard, Vice-President, Federated Farmers. Photo / Supplied

And maybe some more thought could go into why it is that farmers are so reluctant to invest in their own on-farm water storage.

What's holding us back? Could it be the massive amount of compliance and regulatory consenting required to put what is essentially a big pond on your property?

When it comes to water storage there is also this level of opposition based on the fact that it might allow farmers to do more, and in the eyes of some, farmers doing more equals more pollution.

Quite frankly, the answer there is having the appropriate rules framework in place that ensures if a landowner or business wishes to utilise more water for irrigation then it has to be able to be done within certain boundaries.

The strangest opposition I've seen comes from those who claim additional water storage will make us less resilient and more reliant on water storage.

One could apply that same logic to every advancement humankind has made and thus argue we should never have left the caves.

Certainly your average hunter gatherer tribesman still living in the Papua New Guinea highlands or the Amazon is likely going to come through the economic dramas from the Coronavirus better than the rest of us, but it's hardly the answer.


Speaking of Coronavirus it was good to see that amidst all of this, we still had strong export volumes of dairy, meat and horticulture products heading offshore, and hopefully with the Chinese getting on top of the disease we'll see other products that have been harder impacted pick up fairly fast.

China apparently prioritised handling "healthy foods" (dairy and meat) at their ports.

As we are witnessing, at the end of the day everyone needs to eat, end of story. Holidays, sports games, not so much.

A silver lining in this cloud is that hopefully it will remind those in power, of the true value agriculture brings to the New Zealand economy.