Farmers urged to plan for a dry summer

Farmers are being encouraged to plan ahead in the event of another dry summer.

Otago Rural Support Trust trustee and Otago Drought Recovery Committee member Amy Francis said the trust formed the committee after a drought was declared in Otago in April this year.

Her sheep and beef farm in Five Forks had been dry.

Recent rain had been ‘‘amazing’’ but the soil lacked moisture.

‘‘The farm’s looking greener but there’s not a lot underneath to keep it going.’’

Many farmers would have used most of their surplus feed over winter and the situation is likely to be ‘‘tight’’ for many.

She urged farmers to create a feed plan to prepare if dry conditions return.

‘‘To know if they are going to have to source some more feed or start destocking — if they have a plan in place it will hopefully eliminate some of the stress and give them peace of mind going forward.’’

The drought committee members include Otago farmers and representatives from Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and Ministry for Primary Industries.

The ministry provided some funding to support affected farmers, and has two feed services available, both of which are free.

The Feed Planning Service connects farmers to an industry expert to calculate feed demand and supply and investigate options to fill the feed gaps.

A ‘‘snapshot’’ feed plan could be completed in 20 minutes, Mrs Francis said.

The Feed Co-ordination Service connects farmers with surplus feed and grazing to farmers who need it and was successful after the Canterbury floods.

Both services could be accessed by calling 0800 FARMING (0800-327-646).

‘‘We would like to encourage people to plan ahead, and use the resources if they need to.’’

If any farmer was feeling concerned, stressed, overwhelmed, or knows someone who is, then please get in touch with the Otago Rural Support Trust for a free and confidential chat, ‘‘farmer to farmer’’ on 0800-787-254.

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