Waikato seeks official drought declaration
The Government is being asked to make a fresh drought declaration covering the Waikato and nearby areas following the very dry conditions affecting farmers in the region.
A sub-group of the Waikato Regional Drought Committee met in Hamilton last week and heard that no significant rain was expected in the next few weeks.
Waikato and the central plateau were considered the driest areas behind Northland, where a new drought declaration was made last week by the Government.
The meeting passed on a request for a new Waikato declaration to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry official at the meeting, who said MAF would now formally evaluate the request.
The declaration sought would cover from south of Auckland city through to Ruapehu district.
Assistance offered to farmers under an earlier drought declaration was due to expire on December 31, said committee chairman Peter Buckley of Environment Waikato.
Mr Buckley said farmers were already doing much to help themselves manage their way through the current dry conditions and a drought declaration would provide them with an assurance that emergency support was available longer term if required.
‘‘If we get a fresh declaration, this will enable farmers to continue to access emergency assistance beyond December 31.
‘‘Conditions out there are tough and we want to make sure that if the dry conditions persist that the support infrastructure is in place going on into the new year,’’ said Mr Buckley.
‘‘The drought declaration can always be rescinded if we get the rain we need but we believe it’s important to ensure the support infrastructure remains in place given the continuing dry conditions.
‘‘We will also be formally reconvening the drought committee on December 22 to help ensure that everyone is working together to help farmers manage through the drought.’’
The La Nina weather pattern currently affecting the country had been present during the 2008 drought conditions which cost the national economy $2.8 billion and the regional economy $1.2 billion, said MAF’s North Island regional policy manager Phil Journeaux.