Help still at hand though crisis over
Waikato Regional Drought Committee will be keeping a close eye on weather conditions during summer in case there is a need for it to reactivate to provide help to farmers.
The multi-agency committee was formed earlier this year to co-ordinate the regional response to the late summer-autumn drought, the third such dry spell in three years. North Waikato and the north Hauraki Plains have been particularly affected this year.
The committee has decided to formally suspend operations given the fact that rivers and soils have plenty of water after heavy rains and farmer requests for advice and support have tapered off.
Metservice and NIWA say the current La Nia event has strengthened and is likely to continue till at least autumn 2011.
In the Waikato, the prediction for spring and early summer is that temperatures are likely to be above average, with normal seasonal rainfall expected.
‘‘However, we will maintain a close watch on weather and soil conditions as the summer progresses in case there’s a need for the committee to reactivate again to respond to fresh drought conditions,’’ said committee chairman Peter Buckley of Environment Waikato.
The North Island manager for policy at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Phil Journeaux said the Government would still be offering its Rural Assistance Payments to qualifying farmers until December.
Mr Journeaux said more than 30 farming families had qualified for Regional Assistance Payments after the Government declared the drought in the Waikato.
The Rural Support Trust in the Waikato will continue to be available to provide advice to any farmers suffering the ongoing affects of the drought.
The trust’s Waikato chairman Neil Bateup said dozens of farmers had called in seeking advice as a result of the drought.
Most calls this year had been about stretched finances due to the cumulative impact of three dry years.
‘‘It’s been tight and it’s still tight for some,’’ said Mr Bateup. ‘‘So we encourage anyone needing advice to call us. We’re here to help.’’
Mr Buckley said the committee’s establishment had been very useful in helping provide a co-ordinated response to the drought.
Mr Buckley extended his thanks to all involved with the committee. ‘‘We have collectively made a difference to the way stretched farmers have coped with the drought. The committee has been a great example of the Waikato working together to get through adverse circumstances.’’
NOT ALONE: Peter Buckley of Environment Waikato said help is still there for farmers suffering from several dry seasons.