Govt pledge over dry conditions

Damian O'Connor
Damian O'Connor
Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor says he will continue to monitor the dry conditions in the Clutha district so the Government is ready to "step in if required".

Yesterday, Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker asked Mr O'Connor to officially declare drought in the district.

Earlier this week, Otago Federated Farmers president Simon Davies said Clutha was "basically in a drought" and he urged farmers to proactively manage their businesses.

Yesterday, Mr Walker said the situation had "snuck up" on farmers and was getting worse.

"Niwa's drought index shows that Clutha is dry and is headed to drought very fast without substantial rain soon."

Farmers were already having to look outside the area for grazing and start using supplementary feed.

"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," he said.

Mr O'Connor said he was aware of the weather situation in the district and it had been actively monitored for some time.

Local groups such as Federated Farmers were active on the ground providing advice and support to farmers.

"I've been told that support from local industry is meeting farmers' needs at this stage. I'm also told farmers in the area are doing the right thing and are actively managing the situation with the resources at their disposal," Mr O'Connor said.

"At the end of the day, what is going to alleviate the situation is rain. There has been some good rain over the last week, more is needed, and I will continue to monitor the situation so we're ready to step in if required."

Southland farmers able to provide short-term grazing, particularly for ewes and hoggets, were asked to contact Otago Federated Farmers territory manager Nick Abbott.

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