14 Aug 2015

Government extends drought support

11:15 am on 14 August 2015

Drought-affected farmers in eastern parts of the South Island are getting extra relief.

Primary Industries Minister, Nathan Guy, says another $100,000 will be given to the Rural Support Trust to help farmers still in the tight grip of drought conditions in Canterbury, Marlborough and most of Otago.

Funding was originally released by the declaration in February of a medium-scale adverse event intended to run until about now

Mr Guy said that had now been extended until next February.

"It just gives farmers some comfort to know that these support measures are available because this prolonged drought in North Canterbury and other parts of the east coast of the South Island may hang around for a bit longer."

Federated Farmers meat and fibre chair in North Canterbury, Dan Hodgen, said he has had just 200 mls of moisture so far this year, and some of that had been snow.

He said the grass in the region still had a grey tinge and farmers were crossing their fingers the next few weeks may bring some rain.

Mr Hodgen said stress levels were high, but everyone seemed to be coping and focusing on what they can control.

"Most of North Canterbury, we expect to have about 100 days where we get minimal growth to no growth. Once we hit the 1st of May we had a fair idea that we were in for shortages come stocking and lambing, but we were hopeful to get decent moisture over winter to mean that when we hit late August early September the grass would take off.

"But we still haven't really got enough to ensure that's going to be the case yet.

"We're still scraping along a knife edge, if we get some decent moisture in the next couple of weeks to month, there's a chance that we could still get a pretty good spring, but we have to assume, given the last 12 months, that we're not going to get that."

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