Waikato Regional Council supports farmers in tight times
Waikato Regional Council says it’s keen to help where it can when it comes to farmers and related agricultural
businesses weathering the stresses caused by the current low dairy payout.
These are tough times for many dairy farmers and others and the council recognises clearly the strain this can put on
people and finances, the council said in a statement following discussion on the issues by councilors today.
It said council staff are very sensitive to the needs of dairy farmers and related agricultural businesses. This
includes how on-farm monitoring related to environmental rule compliance is carried out, expectations over
environment-related infrastructure improvements and farmer input into catchment improvement initiatives and agreements.
If effluent management infrastructure is found to be inadequate by monitoring staff, farmers are being given realistic
timeframes to make improvements. Also, when farm inspections come across any significant non compliance with
environmental rules the council will continue to look at the specific circumstances of each case, including the
financial situation farmers face.
It’s recommended farmers proactively contact the council as early as possible if they need advice about compliance or
resource consent issues to discuss any problems to be sorted out. The council also encourages farmers to discuss any
issues they have with staff who are on their properties for council business purposes.
This week the council’s on-farm monitoring team, which provides advice to farmers on a range of issues as well as doing
rule compliance checks, was briefed by the Rural Support Trust. The trust has provided information to the team on signs
of stress to look out for and on the best way to safely refer affected farmers on to support services such as the trust.
That information is being shared with other council teams who have regular contact with farmers.
Staff had already helped one dairy farmer under stress to get the assistance he needed and taken special considerations
into account in dealing with other farmers.
Meanwhile, meetings are being held between council staff, dairy companies and other farming organisations on an ongoing
basis to help identify any problem areas for farmers and, where possible, to get a common approach for resolving things.
The council is not going ahead with next year’s annual effluent expo due to the likely lack of investment opportunities
for effluent system upgrades at this time.
Farmers are also able to utilise options for helping them manage regional council rates payments. Information on those
options is available from the council’s rates team on 0800 800 401. For example, rate payments can be spread over 12
months without penalty.