Northland goes from drought to drought

Published: Thu 9 Dec 2010 11:07 AM
Northland goes from drought to drought
Federated Farmers has welcomed the Government’s declaration of a medium scale adverse event in North Auckland and Northland. This means Northland is now in the clutch of a double drought, with two consecutive dry springs, both in the 2009/10 and the 2010/11 seasons.
“It was my pleasure to meet with the Hon David Carter today and Federated Farmers is responding with its 0800 DROUGHT line (0800 376 844),” says Matt Long, Federated Farmers Northland provincial president.
“Federated Farmers will continue to work closely with the Rural Support Trusts, as well as DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb NZ, regional councils and community groups. It’s got to be a team effort from here on in.
“I think it’s important for the public to understand what this declaration actually means and I must make it clear that the only way a farmer will qualify for welfare, is if they were already eligible for welfare payments. I can tell you, I know of hardly any farmers who are on a benefit.
“This announcement allows Inland Revenue to give us some leeway in regards to filing accounts, that doesn’t mean we don’t have to do filing, but gives us the ability to file later and that’s one less thing to worry about.
“The adverse event declaration also gives us access to advisory services that are extremely beneficial for us. That’s not just farm management advice, but also counseling services, because with two consecutive droughts up north, some farmers are getting to their wits-end.
“But what I think we need to do now is work with the councils and Government on water storage options to help reduce the risk of drought in the future, because, as the past two springs show, drought isn’t going away.
“NIWA’s National Climate Summary said yesterday that there are severe soil moisture deficits of over 130 mm in parts of Northland and Auckland as well as elsewhere. In the 2009/10 drought we didn’t strike this point until mid-January but unfortunately this year, with a long dry spring, the dry has come a month earlier.
“The fact is the damage has been done to pasture. As a dual dairy and sheep/beef farmer, I know it will affect production over the next few seasons and like with any business, the losses we suffer come straight off our bottom line and this isn’t only for farmers, drought affects the entire agricultural industry including local businesses and town.
“Federated Farmers now hopes that rain will come as predicted but it won’t make up for the months we’ve lost as a result of this strong La Niña influence,” Mr Long concluded.

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