Ir­ri­ga­tion promis­ing

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY - By NATHAN GUY

IT’S been a very busy first month for me as Min­is­ter for Pri­mary In­dus­tries with some big is­sues to deal with, in par­tic­u­lar, water – or lack of it.

It’s a tough time for many farm­ers, which is why I’ve de­clared a medium-scale drought through­out many parts of the North Is­land.

What this means is that ex­tra government fund­ing is now avail­able to co­or­di­nate sup­port through lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions like the Ru­ral Sup­port Trusts.

They are able to sit down at the kitchen ta­ble with farm­ers and give prac­ti­cal guid­ance and sup­port.

In se­vere hard­ship cases there will also be Ru­ral As­sis­tance Pay­ments (RAPs) avail­able.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Fed­er­ated Farm­ers, DairyNZ and MPI are all pro­vid­ing good sup­port to farm­ers with things like feed co­or­di­na­tion ser­vices. Sup­port is avail­able from government agen­cies in all re­gions, even with­out a drought dec­la­ra­tion.

Farm­ers should con­tact In­land Rev­enue if they need help or flex­i­bil­ity with mak­ing tax pay­ments, and stan­dard as­sis­tance is avail­able from the Min­istry of So­cial Devel­op­ment.

Most farm­ers are re­silient and are pre­pared for dry spells, but it’s im­por­tant to ask for help when needed.

I’ve vis­ited sev­eral farms around the North Is­land re­cently to see the dry con­di­tions for my­self.

I have also vis­ited the sites of po­ten­tial ir­ri­ga­tion projects in Cen­tral Hawke’s Bay and in Can­ter­bury, which could help in fu­ture dry spells like this one.

As a coun­try New Zealand doesn’t have a short­age of water, it’s just it of­ten falls in the wrong places at the wrong times.

This is why the Government has sig­nalled about $400 mil­lion to­wards re­gional-scale schemes to en­cour­age third-party cap­i­tal in­vest­ment.

A few weeks ago I an­nounced that ex­pe­ri­enced di­rec­tor Ali­son Pater­son will over­see the es­tab­lish­ment of a new Crown com­pany to in­vest in th­ese projects.

The new com­pany will be es­tab­lished on July 1 and will act as a bridg­ing in­vestor for re­gional projects, with $80 mil­lion to be set aside in this year’s Bud­get.

Done prop­erly, this has the po­ten­tial to de­liver a ma­jor boost to our pri­mary in­dus­tries.

FRONTING UP: Pri­mary In­dus­tries Min­is­ter Nathan Guy, with farmer David Meads, faces me­dia af­ter declar­ing North­land a drought zone. Mr Guy says the Government is in­vest­ing about $400 mil­lion in ir­ri­ga­tion projects.

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