20 Oct 2015

Farmers urged to prepare for El Nino

2:49 pm on 20 October 2015

The government, along with primary industry organisations, has released guidelines to help farmers prepare for possible impacts of El Nino weather conditions.

Weather forecasters are predicting an intense El Nino could arrive in New Zealand this year, which means drier conditions in the north and east of the country, and cooler wet weather in the west.

The brochure states an El Nino occurs every three to seven years on average, and this one is expected to rank among the four strongest to hit New Zealand.

There has been no heavy rain in the area since June of last year.

El Nino means drier conditions in the north and east of the country. Photo: RNZ / Patrick Phelps

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said past El Nino weather events highlighted the importance of early planning.

"This is all about making sure that farmers and growers have a plan, that they make decisions early, that they conserve some feed... if they're lucky enough to have irrigation that they use it very conservatively, because there could be water restrictions.

Mr Guy said farmers should ensure they were doing feed budgets and talking with professional advisors like consultants, banks and accountants.

"We've had these massive El Nino events before in the early 70s, 1972-73, about 10 years later in the early 80s and in the late 1990s. We don't know if it's going to eventuate or not, but I think it's very appropriate for the government to be making sure that farmers are indeed made aware they should start planning now."

Mr Guy said the brochure included advice from Beef and Lamb New Zealand, Dairy NZ, rural support trusts and the Bankers and Veterinary Associations, and was available on the Ministry for Primary Industries website.

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