18 Dec 2008

Farmers praying for more rain

9:48 pm on 18 December 2008

Farmers say rain which fell throughout New Zealand this week will not be enough to ward off a drought.

The Ministry of Agriculture is providing weekly briefings to Minister David Carter on regions affected, including Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, coastal Marlborough, north-mid Canterbury and Otago.

A meeting will be held next week in Hastings to decide whether the area will be officially declared in drought.

Federated Farmers Waikato president Stew Wadey says the region is very dry and significant rain is needed within the next two weeks if a drought is to be avoided.

Mr Wadey says the impacts of last season's drought on pasture cover and animals were still being felt in November, and there will be significant physical, mental and financial stress placed on farmers if another drought hits so soon.

Mid-Canterbury grain grower representative David Clark says the 25mm of rain which fell on his farm has provided some relief - but things are looking more grim for the rest of region.

Mr Clark says more rain is needed for the livestock industry, although too much will cause problems for arable farmers, who need dry conditions through the harvest season.