Damien O’Connor holds off declaring drought despite National urging

The rain of the last few days has brought some relief to parched paddocks but the week leading up to Christmas could be a trying time for some regions.
The Niwa drought monitor index highlights the Manawatu/Horowhenua/Rangitikei area as especially hard hit.
National’s Primary Industries spokesman Nathan Guy said Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor should declare a drought now, based on what the index indicated, but O’Connor said the criteria for classifying the conditions as a medium or large scale adverse event had not been met.
* Drought on the horizon for farms if no rain soon * Westpac bank helps farmers hard hit by drought But Guy said the new drought index developed by Niwa showed most of the North Island was already either in drought or headed towards severe drought without substantial rain soon.
"The drought index is a new scientific tool to help the Minister confirm when areas are in need of government support, but it is being ignored," Guy said.
It depends on the magnitude of the event and how communities are handling it," Brandolino said.
While there had been more lambs born this season, they were smaller as a result and conditions had not been great for raising them to satisfactory weights.
A lot of farmers would have got rid of their cull ewes early, sent the good lambs to the works but others have been taking a hit and selling their store lambs at quite a reduced value."
O’Connor said Ministry for Primary Industries officials were working closely with farmers and groups including the Rural Support Trust, agri-businesses and other agencies to provide help and a clear picture of what was happening.
Once a medium or large scale drought is declared, the Government provides small amounts of money to Rural Support Trusts, which organise community events, visits to banks, rural professional meetings, one-on-one support and helping with applications for rural assistance payments.

Learn More