Rural trust offering more support

The North Canterbury Rural Support Trust is stepping up its efforts to support drought-stricken farmers.

Chairwoman Gayle Litchfield has welcomed Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor's announcement that the drought classification has been extended to November 30.

The trust is in the process of employing a drought co-ordinator to plan its relief efforts for farmers in North Canterbury and Banks Peninsula.

"It's good news that the Government has extended it because it means we can access more funds to provide more support.

"We hope to put together a plan soon of how we can best assist and help farmers in the North Canterbury and Banks Peninsula areas."

While farmers were looking to the heavens for rain, Mrs Litchfield feared it might be too late.

"We are hoping for some rain soon, but the reality is the rain is likely to come too late now for winter. It's going to be harsh winter for many.

"I would estimate that many farmers are already through 80% of the reserve feed they made in the spring."

Mrs Litchfield advised farmers to look out for their neighbours, keep an eye on staff and contact their local rural support trust if they needed support.

"Support each other and be kind. And watch this space. We will have things happening soon."

The drought classification has been extended to include the entire east coast of both main islands.

Additional funding of $900,000 has been made available to support farmers around the country.

Mid and South Canterbury and Otago have been added to the classification with the new announcement.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has been working with industry organisations, councils and rural support trusts to monitor the impacts of the dry conditions and assess the need for additional support.

The new funding would allow feed support services to continue and it made wellbeing assistance available to more farmers.

‘‘Recovery and resilience co-ordinators will be employed to help co-ordinate support between rural support trusts and industry groups, enabling affected communities to bounce back more quickly,’’ Mr O’Connor said.

‘‘I encourage farmers who need help to do a feed budget to get them through winter, to contact the national feed planning service. Alternatively, the feed co-ordination service can help farmers who need supplementary feed immediately."

Drought was first declared in March last year for the entire North Island, Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough and North Canterbury.

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