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Drought classification welcome news for Marlborough farmers – Federated Farmers

Federated Farmers Marlborough is welcoming today’s classification of drought conditions across the top of the South Island as a medium-scale adverse event.

“It’s a huge relief for local farmers that the Government have recognised the severity of the drought,” says the province’s Federated Farmers president Evan White.

The Tasman and Nelson districts are also covered by the adverse event classification.

“Even just having recognition of how extreme things have been will go some way to boosting morale – particularly in areas where they’ve been hit the hardest, like south of Blenheim.”

Conditions are incredibly dry. Blenheim has recorded its lowest rainfall for the last 9 months in almost a century. That’s having a real impact on the rural community.

“Creeks that have never dried up before have stopped flowing, everything has browned off, and 50-year-old native plantings are starting to die,” White says.

“Stock water is under real pressure as wells dry up. Summer crops are failing, and farmers are having to chew into livestock feed set aside for winter.

“That’s going to have a domino effect because we’re not going to see our usual autumn grass growth. Even if there was rain now it’s debatable how much good it will do this late in the season.”

It’s been a challenging season already with low stock prices, especially for lamb. Inflation and rising interest rates are hitting the sector hard.

“Sheep and beef farm profits are at a 30-year low – and then you factor in the drought impacts on top of that. It’s pretty tough,” White says.

“I’ve got some real concern about the mental wellbeing of farmers and their families. There’s a lot of pressure starting to build.”

Today’s announcement will unlock support for local farmers, such as the ability to defer tax payments or access money, if they have put it aside, under the Farm Income Equalisation Scheme.

Federated Farmers will work with MPI, the Rural Support Trust and others to offer support wherever possible, White says.


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