13 May 2010

Drought assistance requests increase

2:11 pm on 13 May 2010

Calls to the rural support trust in the Bay of Plenty are increasing after months of little rainfall.

The trust is working with farmers to help them manage the drought, regarded as a one in 30-year event.

Chairman Derek Spratt says they'd hoped the heavy rain warning in place overnight would have brought a large dumping of rain, but most parts of the region only received about 23mm.

He says the last significant rainfall was in September and the situation continues to deteriorate for farmers.

Derek Spratt says about five farmers in the region are now receiving Government assistance and he suspects more will need it, in the coming weeks, particularly sharemilkers and some kiwifruit growers.

He expects the biggest influx of calls to be in June and July.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture says significant rain this week could make a difference to some drought afflicted parts of the North Island but may be too late for southern drought zones.

Rain has fallen over much of the country with more forecast over the next few days. There have been heavy rainfall warnings for some districts.

MAF's national adverse events co-ordinator, Phil Journeaux, says the rain so far this week has been promising but in most cases, including Waikato where he's based, it's not nearly enough.