Dry Conditions Discussed
Rural representatives met today to get an overview of the dry conditions affecting the region. The meeting followed a regular climate briefing by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council staff.
The representatives have been collecting information from agriculture, dairy, cropping, and horticulture sectors about the dry conditions and discussed this with Ministry for Primary Industries staff and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chairman Rex Graham and staff.
The general view is that the late spring and summer period has been drier than usual. Most areas went from a cool spring into a dry, warm and windy summer. Hawke’s Bay farmers and horticulturalists are experienced in dealing with dry conditions and are generally well prepared.
“Hawke’s Bay is known to be dry in summer and on the whole farmers know how to farm to the conditions and are generally coping,” says Will Foley, Hawke’s Bay President of Federated Farmers.
The group agreed that the region is not near the threshold to deem it a drought as farmers are coping and have options available to them. Unlike in 2013 when it was dry across the whole North Island, this year western areas have had good grass growth so farmers have options around grazing and selling stock.
The group will continue to monitor the situation closely as early autumn rain will be the key for good pasture recovery.
There are two areas of Hawke’s Bay where conditions are much drier than normal.
Farmers in the western hill country, known as ‘summer safe’ areas, have not had the usual regular rainfall tipping over the ranges. Also in eastern coastal areas, lower than normal winter rain meant many farm dams did not get the usual top up, and while there is still adequate pasture cover, water for stock will require careful management.
“Farmers in these areas will be making different decisions this summer about their operation and what to do about stock, and non-irrigated dairy farmers will be considering options around drying off cows,” says Mr Foley.
Lon Anderson of the East Coast Rural Support Trust says farmers who are feeling the stress can call him to get support on 0800 787 254.
“It can help to talk to someone else and have a good discussion about options. It can make a big difference to know that someone cares about your situation and can help you get through.”
The hot, dry windy conditions have created a high demand for irrigation. Horticulturalists are managing and grateful that regular rain on the ranges is keeping the main river levels above total ban.
Grape growers find this dry period ideal.
MPI advises that it doesn’t declare droughts.
MPI is concerned with the economic, environmental and social impact that dry conditions or droughts have on the rural sector, and their ability to cope. Working with local stakeholders, MPI is responsible for making an assessment of the potential impact, and advising government of the scale and severity of the event. Like all adverse events, a drought event is classified as a localised, medium or large-scale event, depending upon the physical impact, the degree of economic and social impact, and the availability of risk management options.
Medium-scale and large-scale events acknowledged by the Government can attract recovery measures, such as additional funding for Rural Support Trusts to assist their communities with co-ordination of drought recovery activities.
During medium-scale and large-scale events, affected farmers may have access to:
- rural assistance payments;
- late income equalisation deposits and early withdrawals;
- additional technology transfer (sharing technical and practical advice and information); and
- community pastoral care through their local Rural Support Trust.
3 February 2017