By 3 News online staff
A state of drought has officially been declared in Northland by the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy.
The official declaration provides for a range of relief measures and economic aid to be provided to farmers.
“The declaration of a medium-scale event means that extra Government funding will now be available to coordinate support through local organisations like the Rural Support Trusts. In extreme cases there will also be Rural Assistance Payments (RAPs) available to farmers in severe hardship,” says Mr Guy, a dairy farmer himself.
He says he’snow keeping a close watch on other areas of the country which are suffering from low levels of rainfall – particularly the Waikato and Hawke’s Bay – and that more drought declarations are likely.
But he says help is available even in areas without official declarations.
“Support is also available from Government agencies in all regions, even without a drought declaration. Farmers should contact IRD if they need help or flexibility with making tax payments, and standard assistance is available from the Ministry of Social Development," says Mr Guy in a statement.
“Farmers have been taking practical steps to deal with the dry, such as destocking and switching to once a day milking. It’s important to plan ahead and to ask for help when needed.”
Farms in many parts of the country are running dry after a hot summer.
Waikato Regional Council has formed a drought committee, but is holding off on a formal drought declaration.
Wairarapa Federated Farmers president Jamie Falloon says they're not in drought conditions in his part of the country, but they aren't far off.