Time to declare drought in Clutha - Hamish Walker

Hamish Walker
Hamish Walker. Photo: ODT files
It is time the Government officially declared a drought in the Clutha district to enable support for farmers, Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker says.

Mr Walker said he today asked the Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor to make an official declaration for the region.

"The situation has snuck up on farmers in Clutha and is getting worse

"NIWA’s Drought Index shows that Clutha is dry and is headed to drought very fast without substantial rain soon."

"March was the second hottest since NIWA records began in 1909 and very dry. Balclutha had 17mm, or 29%, of normal March rainfall and it was the fourth-lowest rainfall since 1968," he said.

Making an official declaration would allow some short term relief for Clutha farmers, Mr Walker said

At the moment any rain in the region was extremely isolated with hilltops receiving far more rain than lower-lying areas.

"Farmers are already having to look out of the area for upcoming winter grazing and they have already had to start using their supplementary feed."

Clydevale farmer Hamish Wilson has been feeding out to ewes for the past six weeks. PHOTO: JOHN...
Clydevale farmer Hamish Wilson has been feeding out to ewes for the past six weeks. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE
"Farmers are doing the best they can to deal with the current situations, but as dry conditions continue, the situation is getting worse."

"The Government needs to act immediately and support these farmers."

Otago Federated Farmers president Simon Davies said last week the Clutha district is "basically in a drought'' and warned that farmers need to be proactively managing their businesses.

Winter was also not far away and consideration of winter feed supplies was strongly recommended.

"Generally, the earlier decisions are made the better,'' he said.

Mr Davies, who farms at Toko Mouth, said it was a "far worse position'' than last year. With little feed to flush ewes on, he had bought sheep nuts for the first time

The concern was that if the weather got cold, farmers would not have feed going into winter, which was a "real worry''.

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