Waikato seeks of­fi­cial drought dec­la­ra­tion

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

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.

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