17 Apr 2013

Drought stricken rural families on income support

3:00 pm on 17 April 2013

Rainfall has been mixed in Northland, with eastern areas receiving good falls but those in the west around Dargaville still needing much more moisture.

Northland's rural support co-ordinator, Julie Jonker, said about a dozen drought-stricken farming and horticultural families were now receiving rural assistance payments or were in the pipeline to do so.

She expected the number to grow, because income was still down. She said people were still buying in feed and there was usually about three weeks between rain and serious grass growth.

She said people may be holding off because they had a Fonterra payment in April, but that was an early payment rather than an extra one.

By July or August, Ms Jonker expected more farmers to have difficulties because there would be no more milk money and people would be living on further advances.

Few apply for help in Hawke's Bay

In Hawke's Bay, where rainfall has also been patchy, rural support co-ordinator Mike Barham said just a few people had applied for income support so far.

"I think farmers are probably being a bit more proactive."

He said for sheep and beef farmers the problem year was usually the following year, when they needed to restock.

At the moment Mr Barham said there were only three people on rural assistance payments, with another two in the pipeline.

"But last drought we had 20 people that qualified for that."

Another shipment of stock feed from Canterbury was due to arrive in Hawke's Bay on Tuesday.