Officials will ask the Minister for Primary Industries to declare the Waikato and surrounding areas a drought zone, as the region continues to wilt under a punishing sun.
The decision was made at the second formal drought committee meeting today at Waikato Regional Council offices in Hamilton, with representatives from the council, Ministry for Primary Industries, Federated Farmers, Rural Support Trust and other rural entities.
Council chairman Peter Buckley said the meeting decided to ask the minister, Nathan Guy, to declare the Waikato and surrounding areas a drought zone, as conditions had worsened considerably over the past week and some farmers were really struggling.
"Farmer stress is increasing - the Rural Support Trust is getting a lot more calls," he said.
The stock feed situation had also worsened, with supplies getting tight.
Ministry spokesman Stuart Anderson said the minister would need time to consider the request and a decision was likely this week.
"We will take the information to the minister for a decision. I can't give you an exact day," he said.
A drought declaration is important, as it expands the range of government help available to severely affected farming families, including financial help and tax relief.
The drought zone sought would cover the Waikato region, south Auckland (south of the Harbour Bridge), the Rotorua district and Rerewhakaaitu by Rotorua.
"It covers the area essentially from the Harbour Bridge to Turangi," Buckley said, with one wit at the meeting describing it as the territory of the Chiefs' rugby team.
The minister would be asked to declare a medium-scale drought, the same as he declared for Northland last Wednesday.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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