Drought declaration sought for Wairarapa
Mayors, regional and district council officers met with farming representatives last night to discuss the latest monitoring data and the status of a drought declaration for the Wairarapa. The group will today ask the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to declare a localised drought.
Declaring a localised drought acknowledges to farmers that the difficulties they are facing now, and in the immediate future have been acknowledged. Should the current dry conditions continue representatives will ask MPI to declare a medium level drought.
"With high soil moisture deficits and continuing low rainfall forecast the situation is concerning for many of our farmers We've been keeping a careful eye on data and in close contact with farmers and their representatives over recent months" said Wayne O'Donnell, General Manager GWRC Catchment Management Team. "Communication is going to be key now and we will continue to keep our Drought Committee supported with information."
"We want farmers to make sure they are talking to the Rural Support Trust, their industry representatives, accountant and bank if they are facing problems. They need to talk to family and friends and not try and shoulder the stress of the difficult situation alone."
The Wairarapa Drought Committee combines representative s of regional and district councils as well as Federated Farmers, dairy, sheep and beef industry representatives, Wairarapa Rural Support Trust and Ministry for Primary Industries.
The committee looked at data and information demonstrating that:
- dry conditions in the district have worsened considerable over the last few weeks with minimal rain and hot days;
- minimal rain is expected over the next two weeks, meaning at least 4 weeks before stock demand exceeds grass growth and severely restricting farmers ability to build up pasture cover going into the winter;
- soil moisture deficits levels are now around 135 mm and well below where they are normally. About 50+ mm of rain is required to get the soil moisture levels up to get good pasture growth;
- IRD have advised that in light of the circumstances, although the Wairarapa Drought Committee is seeking a localised drought, they will look favourably applications from farmers able to justify refund of overpaid provisional tax and/or late deposits and early withdrawals from the income equalisation scheme;
- the Rural Support Trust and other organisations that service the rural districts have noticed an increase in the stress levels within the rural communities since these adverse conditions have now been around since well before Christmas in many cases. The Rural Support Trust number is 0800 787 254 or www.rural-support.org.nz
Media enquiries to Greater Wellington Regional Council media team on 021 914 266
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