13 Apr 2013

Not much rain - but beer is flowing

9:05 am on 13 April 2013

Farmers from drought hit areas have been given the opportunity to drown their sorrows at a North Island brewery.

About 2000 farmers registered for the Drought Shout at the Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka in the Manawatu-Wanganui district on Thursday afternoon.

A similar event was held during the 2008 drought.

The event was organised by the brewing firm, Wairarapa agribusiness consultancy Baker and Associates and PGG Wrightson.

Bus transport was provided as well as beer and food, and entertainment included a helicopter beer drop, a topdressing aircraft display, a stock-whip cracking competition and a mechanical bull-riding contest.

Daniel Absolom who farms at Rissington west of Napier said it was a chance to get off the farm and away from drought worries for a few hours.

He said his farm has had 80mm of rain so far this year and only 11mm in the past two weeks, well below average for an area that normally gets a 1000mm a year.

Another who made the trip, Chris Minehan, runs a mixed sheep, beef and cropping farm in Takapau in central Hawke's Bay.

He said his farm held up alright until February but now there's no pasture left for the stock, and they're surviving on supplementary feed.

It's the second time in five years Chris Minehan's farm has been hard-hit by drought and the second time in five years he's been to a Tui Drought Shout, which he says is an event greatly appreciated by farmers .

Wairarapa regional manager for PGG Wrightson, Duncan Fletcher, says farmers' weather woes are being compounded by low prices, putting put farmers and the rural community under a lot of pressure during the last six months.

One of the organisers, Katie Farman, says its hoped farmers will catch up with their mates and have a beer on the basis that a problem shared is a problem halved.