7 Feb 2017

Govt drought package falls short, farmer says

4:37 pm on 7 February 2017

A Northland dairy farmer says a government support package will do little to help those struggling in the drought-stricken region.

Dry creek bed

A dairy farmer in Hukerenui says the government support package does "bugger all" for drought-stricken farmers. Photo: Supplied

The government declared a medium-scale drought for Northland on Friday, triggering extra support from banks and the Rural Support group and flexibility from Inland Revenue.

Hukerenui dairy farmer Evan Sneath said he culled his dairy herd from 270 to 250 to get by.

He had enough supplement feed to make it through to next month, but it would not be easy as the support package fell short of what was needed.

"This government thing does bugger all for us. If they actually stepped in and paid for cartage on food and stuff like that, it would actually make a difference to us.

"A lot of people are short of feed now and the only feed we can get is way down south, but the cost is prohibitive to get it up here."

He doubted it would help other farmers in the region.

"Ninety-nine percent of farmers don't even touch it [the support package] because it's not worth anything. We do get tax relief later on, but at the end of the day, you've still got to pay your dues anyway."

Mr Sneath said he wanted the government to subsidise freight or cartage so it was affordable.

"When we did bring some feed in during other years when we've had floods or drought, you're talking about $100 to get a bale here landed on farm.

"At the moment you can get them for about $70 and get them landed for about $75. When you start having to pay $100 to $110 a bale, it's starting to push it and makes it a bit unrealistic to even feed," he said.

"So that's the sort of thing that I think the government should be doing, and Federated Farmers should be pushing for."

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