Friday, 15 March 2013 15:29

West Coast asks for drought status

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The West Coast is today forwarding its request to the Ministry for Primary Industries for a medium scale adverse event declaration.

This follows confirmation that the entire North Island has been declared a medium scale adverse event due to drought.

Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Adverse Events spokesperson, says the lack of rain remains a concern with soil moisture deficits pushing upwards of 150mm. Even with steady rain it will take time to correct but with each passing day winter closes in.

"To show the public what farmers are doing, Federated Farmers is holding 'Farming in Drought' Farm Days this Sunday in Rotorua and Wellington. All the details are at www.farmday.org.nz. We are holding another one near Tauranga next Sunday (March 24).

"It will be a long, slow grind out of drought for the North Island with parts of the South Island now convening drought meetings too

"Given the Rural Support Trusts run on the smell of an oily rag and are volunteer driven, I think the entire rural community will welcome the extra funding they will receive. This is about funding advice and counselling services.

"It is why the biggest boost these declarations give farmers from Tararua to Auckland is psychological. It tells farmers they have not stuffed up and it is okay to ask your mates, your bank and the Rural Support Trusts for advice," Milne says.

What an adverse event declaration means:
 For farmers, a medium scale adverse event declaration recognises that events have gone beyond the control of individual farmers and that it is not their fault.
 Rural Support Trusts can coordinate and deliver farm advisory and counselling services. This advice is invaluable in aiding business recovery and helping individual families cope with the stresses caused.
 A declaration also triggers discretion from Inland Revenue on things like Income Equalisation. This allows Inland Revenue to accept later deposits to the income equalisation scheme than is usual, but needs to be arranged by a farm's accountant.
 Any declaration formally confirms to the banks how bad things are. The Federation recommends that farmers speak to their rural manager because keeping the banks fully informed means they will work with you.
 While there are benefits called Rural Assistance Payments or RAP's. Very few farmers will qualify as these are strictly administered for genuine hardship and are subject to asset and means testing. Support from the Ministry for Social Development and Inland Revenue may prove beneficial to farm workers and their families.
 Federated Farmers has its 0800 DROUGHT (0800 376 844) feed line and Federated Farmers Grain & Seed Industry Group is working with feed merchants to get feed into the North Island.
 Finally, the industry good bodies funded by farmers, such as DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb NZ and FAR are able to provide on-farm advice and guidance to affected farmers.

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