Hawke's Bay farmers under immense pressure from drought

By Aroha Treacher

A severe drought in Central Hawke's Bay is putting immense pressure on farmers as it heads into its seventh month of well-below average rainfall.

Hawke's Bay usually sees 443mm of rain this time of year but it has only reached 279.4mm.

"The drought is up there with some of the worst droughts. Talking with some of the older, wiser, older people, they're saying it's up there with the drought on 1982-1983 which was one of the worst droughts. You'd have to go back to the 1940s to get something worse," Hawke’s Bay Rural Advisory Group chair Lochie MacGillivray says.

"This is another type of crisis that is affecting us, everyone is still doing what they can but it's very difficult because the paddocks are so dry so there's no feed for the cows," Hastings District Councillor Bayden Barber says.

No feed means getting from the farm to the plate is proving very difficult.

"Farmers can't sell stock to other farmers who are outside the region, they can't sell stock to the freezing works, they cant buy in feed and so they're rapidly running out of feed," MacGillivray says.

The combination of Covid-19 and the drought is putting immense pressure on farmers.

"The community has been great, they're providing water tankers for free which is one of the good parts really, seeing the community spirit which is out there."

Barber says, "I'm here to help find those ones that are here working the land and help them through these very difficult times."

There is also support through the Rural Support Trust and farmers are encouraged to plan ahead for winter.