31 May 2010

Legacy of Waikato's third dry summer will linger

2:05 pm on 31 May 2010

The effects of the drought in the North Island will linger, with many farmers out of pocket by at least $100,000.

That's according to the Waikato regional drought committee, which says there is ongoing concern for cash-strapped farming families, even though recent rain broke the drought.

Soil moisture conditions are still below average in the region and more rain is needed to fully restore pasture health.

A committee member, Duncan Smeaton, from Dairy NZ, says three dry summers in a row, plus black beetle damage on pastures, has left the average Waikato dairy farmer out of pocket by between $100,000 and $150,000 a year.

He says they will need two or more good years to recover financially.

Twenty-five rural Waikato families currently get income support, which includes food grants and child care subsidies.

Wairarapa third region to get drought status

Wairarapa farmers are welcoming official recognition that they have been in drought for the third year in a row.

Wairarapa and North Canterbury have joined a growing list of regions in the Government's official drought-relief zone, which started with Northland in January.

East Coast Rural Support Trust chairman Neil McLaren, a Wairarapa farmer himself, says that despite the rain over the past week the region is still very much in the grip of drought.

He says the effects of a lack of quality feed will be felt for months.

The drought has taken a financial toll on farmers, Mr McLaren says, adding to the cost of farm losses and lower prices.

He says stock numbers on most Wairarapa farms are down about 20% because of the past three years of drought.