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Lusi's rain not enough

CARYN WIGMORE
Last updated 05:00 20/03/2014
Red sky

RED SKY: The sunrise from a Waimauku balcony indicates a storm brewing as cyclone Lusi approaches.

Drought, Farmer
Caryn Wigmore
BATTLING DROUGHT: Grass is going brown on Richard Kidd’s Helensville farm.

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Drought-hit farms in the nor-west have gained little respite from cyclone Lusi.

The weekend's storm failed to deliver enough rain to dry rural properties on northland's west coast and sheep and beef farmer Richard Kidd is among those disappointed by the outcome.

Only 36mls fell on his Helensville property during the weekend and he says more is needed this week to help the grass grow long enough for grazing.

The dry spell has forced him to use some winter feed of silage to keep the calves putting on weight.

"It hasn't got totally desperate but if we don't get more rain for three or four weeks it's going to be very grim," he says.

"We would probably have to buy in feed or feed the rest of our silage if that happened."

Farmers now preparing to sow winter crops are also reliant on rain for germination.

Kidd has lived in the area for nearly four decades and recalls perpetual rain in 2012. But he says the past two years have been very dry.

"I try not to take it to heart because I know the rain is going to come at some stage."

Farmers who have lived in the district for some time know to expect dry summers, he says.

Only 10mm to 35mm fell in Auckland over the weekend, Federated Farmers adverse events spokeswoman Katie Milne says.

She says some farmers may have to consider reducing stock numbers of the problem continues.

Those milking may have to look at drying off cows early.

It is important to keep banks aware of their plans and prioritise the welfare of livestock and their families, she says.

Milne says farmers do not need an adverse events declaration to approach the Inland Revenue Department for income equalisation relief.

The department, she says, can show flexibility on a case-by-case basis.

The fire service dealt with 63 callouts in parts of Auckland on Saturday night. Around 200 people were without power throughout the region by 10am on Sunday. Drought-stricken farmers can phone these numbers for support: Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 Samaritans: 0800 726 666 Lifeline: 0800 543 354 Rural support trusts: 0800 787 254.

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- Norwest News

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