$150,000 for 8000 hectare drought affected farm "inadequate"

By Taroi Black

This summer’s drought on Tairāwhiti is having a huge impact on local farmers and their livestock. So the Government has allocated $150,000 to be shared affected regions which is inadequate according to one Maori farm.  

Chair of Whangara Farms Ingrid Collins says, “It will be exactly that, $150,000 for our farm to be able to continue working.”

Whangara Farms which covers 8000 hectares of whenua north of Tūranganui a Kiwa, recognised as one of the largest Maori farming incorporations in Aotearoa.  

They have a livestock of 75,000 sheep and beef. However, in order to avoid complications that could impact on business meant that the incorporation from Whangara invested $3 million to restore their troughs and reticulations.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has allocated $150,000 to the Rural Support Trust which will support areas experiencing severe dryness or drought, which can be topped up if needed. 

“There's been a lack of rain for the North of Tolaga Bay in particular on the east coast for quite some time,” O’Connor says.

However, there is positive news for the region as rain is expected to occur over a four day period starting this weekend.

The drought relief funding will be shared across farms in Gisborne, Manawatu, Rangitikei, and Tararua districts.

Minister O’Connor has already confirmed that the Ministry for Primary Industries will work closely with industry bodies to address a nationwide call that will analyze the best option to support farmers and their animals through the drought.  

“Both water and feed for stock is a challenge in this and other drought-affected regions of New Zealand.”

In Taitokerau, the Government committed $2 million to install temporary water supplies in Kaikohe and Kaitaia whilst the Defence Force helped deliver water to towns.

Why the $150,000 support helps:

We’re working with Rural Support Trusts and industry groups to help farmers in need so they can:

-              Provide advice and help farmers deal with stock and feed issues

-              One-to-one support from RSTs for farmers to ensure wellbeing and that people are looking after each other

-              Run events so farmers can come together

-              IRD can provide tax relief to those who need it

-              Rural assistance payments are available to farmers who can’t meet essential living needs. They are set at 100% of the unemployment benefit.

-              That funding can be increased should it be required.

The $150,000 will bolster recovery activities in affected rural areas.

MPI’s actions:

-              MPI Director General Ray Smith met with the Meat Industry Association this week to monitor the situation and assess support as needed.

-              Senior MPI staff have been on the ground in Northland working with farmers, their industry groups, the regional council, and the fire service – to ensure a coordinated effort.

-              We are working alongside the Rural Support Trust to ensure farmer welfare is identified and people are getting help where needed.

-              We are actively working with councils and Federated Farmers to ensure animal welfare issues are prioritised. This includes water and feed requirements and help for de-stocking if needed.

-              We are working closely with veterinarians and the SPCA.

-              MPI is boosting its messaging on how to keep animals safe in difficult conditions.