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Govt increases assistance to drought-stricken Hawke's Bay farmers

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Government will provide $500,000 to the Hawke’s Bay Mayoral Drought Relief Fund to help farmers facing one of the worst droughts in living memory, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

"Yesterday afternoon I received a letter from Hawke's Bay's five local Government leaders asking me to contribute to the Fund.

"Mayoral Relief Funds help communities to get back on their feet after adverse events, with local communities and councils directing funding to where it’s needed most.

"Access to feed is the biggest acute issue facing drought-affected farmers right now. Feed is in very short supply in the North Island, so most has to be shipped up from the South. This funding will go towards subsidising the transport costs of getting feed up from the South Island.

"There are also a lot of heart-warming cases of farmers helping each other through community-driven feed drives, such as the donations of hay transported from the Wairarapa to Hawke’s Bay and another planned from the King Country. It’s great to see."

Mr O’Connor said national feed coordinators put in place a fortnight ago by MPI were working hard to help farmers and alongside other grass-roots initiatives.

"The feed coordinators are making a real difference on the ground already. In just the first week, they identified 44 feed sources and matched them to farmers in need.

"The Rural Advisory Group and Rural Support Trust are closely involved in this work, and other groups and agencies are very willing to add their help. We’re investigating further options to move feed around the country to help farmers.

"The Government knows our farmers, growers and producers will play a critical role in New Zealand’s economic recovery from COVID-19, so helping reduce pressure on Hawke’s Bay farmers and their families, and drive regional recovery efforts from this drought is a priority for us.

"Farming, cropping and directly related production are worth $500 million to Hawke’s Bay. This is about protecting the productivity of a crucial part of the regional economy."

Today’s funding builds on support totalling more than $17 million which has been made available to drought stricken regions so far this year.

2020 drought and Government support

Drought affected regions and districts within the primary sector include all of the North Island; the Chatham Islands, Christchurch, Marlborough, Nelson, Tasman, Selwyn, Kaikoura and Waimakariri districts and regions.

Support totalling more than $17 million has been made available to drought stricken regions so far this year, through a range of investments including:

$10 million for immediate water needs,

$2 million to set up temporary water supplies for Kaitaia and Kaikohe,

Up to $2 million for rural assistance payments

$2.5 million to boost funding for Rural Support Trusts, recovery co-ordinators, a feed working group, advisory services and drought-related advice

$.5 million to the Hawke’s Bay Mayoral Drought Relief Fund

Additional support such as IRD income equalisation and other community coordination and advice.

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