No 'hand out' from Government as Northland farmers reach near drought conditions

The Government is leaving farmers without support to struggle with the financial impact of drought conditions, Federated Farmers claim.

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Northland branch president John Blackwell spoke to TVNZ 1’s Breakfast as the region experiences very dry conditions. Source: Breakfast

Northland is currently on the brink of drought due to a record low annual rainfall in the area, with Dargaville and Kaikohe experiencing water restrictions since November.  

Northland president of Federated Farmers, John Blackwell says even when the Government declares a region is in drought no financial assistance is provided to deal with the cost.   

"Well I've been involved with this for a long time and when the Government do declare a drought there is no handout for farmers at all.” 

When a drought is declared, Mr Blackwell says banks do become more lenient at allowing for farmers to borrow funds.

"The incomes are cut right back, and the banks can be quite sympathetic once it's been declared a drought.”  

What support farmers are provided from the Government is through the Rural Support Trust.  

Mr Blackwell says the trust helps assist farmers with the other - non-financial - effects a drought can have, such as the effect on their mental health.  

"One of the problems farmers face is making the right decisions and sometimes it's pretty tough. Especially if you've got to de-stock and get rid of your herd or your flock of ewes you've been breeding for a long time.” 

He says the exceptionally dry last few months has caused streams, water bores and dams to run lower than usual. While grass which stock are grazing, is not returning at the same rate it usually would.