Ag Minister extends drought classification to Grey, Buller districts

Agriculture and rural Minister Damien O'Connor says an early and unusual dry start to summer turned West Coast pastures from swamp to concrete.

Agriculture and rural Minister Damien O'Connor has added the Grey and Buller districts on the South Island's West Coast to the medium-scale drought declared in the lower North Island last month.

The extension of the drought classification means the local Rural Support Trust and other recovery organisations get a funding boost of up to $50,000 to help their local communities. O'Connor declared 13 districts across Taranaki, Manawatu-Whanganui and Wellington were in drought conditions just before Christmas after an extremely dry start to the summer.

"On the back of an extremely wet winter that left many farmers unable to grow pasture or crops for spring, the early and unusual dry start to summer turned West Coast pastures from swamp to concrete," O'Connor said in a statement. "It was agreed that while farmers needed to plan for the worst, there was hope that the forecast rainstorms could break the drought before central government assistance became necessary. However, the Grey and Buller districts now meet the criteria for a medium-scale event."

O'Connor, who is also the local MP for West Coast-Tasman, had been closely monitoring the dry weather conditions in the lead-up to declaring the medium-scale event, and today said there's a watching brief on neighbouring areas including Murchison, which have missed out on rain.

The Ministry for Primary Industries classifies medium-scale events as those that impact farms and communities at a district or multi-district level. Central government aid includes tax relief and income assistance. The ministry is currently reviewing its drought policy framework with a new policy expected to be in place by the middle of this year.

(BusinessDesk)


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The local MP for "Grey and Buller" is Damien O'Conner. He is also "Agriculture and Rural" Minister.
He declares "Buller and Grey" officially in drought and eligible for taxpayer handouts.
And Parliamentarians wonder why the public rate them lower than second hand car dealers!!!!
"Buller and Grey" Sheesh. Compare their rainfall with Marlborough farmers who ask for nothing???

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Isn't it refreshing to see an Ag minister jumping to help our farmers quickly.
John Morrison is stuck in the 70's

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Wet enough for you yet? Still get taxpayer assistance? Nice.
I have farmed all my life. Weather variables are factored in. It is called running a business without help from WINZ. Sadly something that is never learned by those who are given farm from Dad.

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It doesn't look so bad. The Manawatu -Wanganui drought declaration earlier was mildly surprising.
http://www.metservice.com/maps-radar/local-observations/cumulative-rainf...

But the paltry sums for Rural Support etc. do not seem likely to make a big hole in government finances, and the declaration may make running the gauntlet of the DSW that little bit easier for those self-employed who find it hard to keep the children cared for.

The message really is - keep feeding the PKE folks; the government has your back. It's a little surprising that the message did not come from a Green Party spokesperson

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