Drought declaration expected tomorrow
Decision expected tomorrow morningJILL GALLOWAY
A decision about whether a drought will be declared in Manawatu and Rangitikei is expected to be made tomorrow.
Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy is scheduled to make an announcement tomorrow morning, with farmers in the region expecting him to declare a drought.
The dry, hot weather scorching the region this year has placed many farmers in hardship. A drought declaration offers more flexibility around tax payments for farmers, allows them to get the equivalent of an unemployment benefit and means some funds are made available to Rural Trusts to help stressed residents.
Mr Guy, who has been on an official trip to South America, is also expected to announce a drought for Taranaki and Wairarapa, which also applied for the status.
Information on weather, soil moisture deficits, stock water issues and stock condition for the southern North Island will be factors in the decision.
Manawatu and Rangitikei farmers say the drought status also lets urban people know the seriousness of the dry conditions they are dealing with and the impact on their income.
Droughts have already been declared in Northland, North and South Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay.
Tomorrow's expected declaration would mean most of the North Island has to cope with dry conditions.
This has made things harder as farmers have been unable to get all the required stock slaughtered, and have been unable to buy extra feed or have stock grazed by other North Island farmers.
While some rain is forecast this weekend, advisers say more rain is needed and it will be at least 4-6 weeks before there is any pasture growth.
Those in the hill country are worried it will come too late to stimulate much needed growth for stock for winter.
- © Fairfax NZ News
What would you like the weather to do in March?