Help still at hand though cri­sis over

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

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.’’

Photo: PI­AKO POST

NOT ALONE: Peter Buck­ley of En­vi­ron­ment Waikato said help is still there for farm­ers suf­fer­ing from sev­eral dry sea­sons.

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