Plea for support for farmers as dry conditions continue in Canterbury

There is a dire need for rain in parts of Canterbury.

A farmer says government support for the sector may soon be essential.

Niwa claims North Canterbury could be headed for an official drought and farmers in Banks Peninsula say it hasn’t been this dry in 30 years.

North Canterbury Rural Support Trust chair Gayle Litchfield told Tim Dower on Newstalk ZB farmers are now in their second year of dryness.

“It is very dry. Historically Canterbury is quite dry during the summer but last year was a drought as well and there was not enough recovery rain in the winter so everyone’s gone into this summer on the back foot.

“Of course now we’re into another dry and it’s just accumulating.”

The New Zealand Drought Index map below shows widespread dry to very dry conditions are in place across most of the eastern North Island, northeastern South Island, as well as Otago and eastern Southland.

It also shows extremely dry conditions in north Canterbury and eastern Otago.

Litchfield said the fate of winter is sealed.

“It’s almost too late now, any rain there is, there will be no benefit seen until October which is still six months away.

“It’s a long time to get through on a daily basis.”

A need for government support is almost inevitable to help farmers get through the winter, she said.

“Farmers need help. They are able to destock parts of herds and stock but need to maintain their core animal group so they have something to continue with.

“They just need assistance around feed budgeting and access to feed from other parts of the country.”

Litchfield said she hopes a drought is declared soon.

“That decision will come from the minister, I believe the procedures are in place. Hopefully, it will be declared, we just haven’t had confirmation yet, it is definitely needed.”

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