5 Mar 2013

Hawke's Bay leaders want Govt to declare drought

9:20 pm on 5 March 2013

Agriculture industry leaders in Hawke's Bay will formally ask the Government to declare the region a drought zone.

Regional council chairman Fenton Wilson, who chaired a meeting in Napier on Tuesday, says many farmers are in a similar position to what they were during the drought of 2008.

If the Minister for Primary Industries agrees to declare a drought, it will be the fourth since 2007 for farmers in central Hawke's Bay, with many quitting stock for months due to a lack of feed.

Mr Wilson says council statistics on river flows and the unavailability of water for irrigation, due to a low level in the aquifer, are the basis for the application to the minister.

He said if a drought is declared, various provisions for assisting farmers, such as the deferral of tax, can be triggered in case they face more severe hardship.

There is serious concern that farmers will go into winter without sufficient feed for stock, he said.