22 Apr 2014

Weekend rain not enough in Northland

6:48 am on 22 April 2014

Patchy rain on the west coast of Northland at the weekend was not enough to be a drought-breaker, farmers say.

Substantial rain had been forecast in the area, but Northland rural support trust co-ordintator Julie Jonker says farmers have told her most of it didn't eventuate.

"I was looking at the rain radar checking to see and I thought, 'Oh great it looks like the west coast is getting some'. But once again it shows, because of our varied topography, it just shows the rainfall is different.

"I was talking to somebody else and they were saying that the rain just isn't enough - there's nice light falls and it's not running off which is good, but the grass growth that is occurring is very watery - not much feed value in it."

Ms Jonker says stress levels among farmers are rising.

"Psychologically, these guys are really finding it hard to get motivated. They're spending all day feeding out supplements, having to go to the bank to ask for extra money to be able to afford to keep doing this for animal welfare sake.

"These are fourth and fifth generation farmers, so it's not like they've been going a short time - they've been as adaptable as they can, but they're still finding it really, really tough."

Shipments of supplementary feed palm kernel expeller are due to arrive shortly in Tauranga. Ms Jonker has renewed a call for farmers who need the feed for drought-hit livestock to be given it ahead of farmers who want it to boost production.