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Hawke’s Bay Rural Advisory Group keeping an eye on the dry

Dry grass

The Hawke’s Bay Rural Advisory Group is keeping a watchful eye on the region’s current dry conditions and reminding farming communities what to do if they need help.

Made up of representatives from rural and primary sector agencies, the Hawke’s Bay Rural Advisory Group works closely with Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group to prepare for and respond to adverse events in the rural community.

Co-Chair Wade Nilsson said the group was only too aware of how the dry conditions were affecting rural communities in Hawke’s Bay, particularly in southern parts of the region.

“February in particular was very hot and dry with most areas receiving less than 10 per cent of the usual rainfall, and soil moisture very low across the region,” Mr Nilsson said.

“This, of course, has increased our fire risk, as well as putting pressure on feed stocks and water supplies.

“We know this makes things very tough on farmers and growers, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure we put people who are struggling in touch with the right agencies.”

Mr Nilsson said farmers making plans early was the best way to get through extended dry seasons.

“We know from previous years that making early decisions on the things you can control is the single biggest way to cope during hot, dry summers,” he said.

“Put plans and deadlines in place in case we don’t get any significant rainfall over the next few weeks; seek advice and support from your rural networks; and think about your feed stocks and water supplies – including whether you might need to invest in additional water tanks and to stock up on supplementary feed.

“Talk to your bank early if you need to put financial safety nets in place, such as keeping sales proceeds so you can restock when you need to.

“It’s vital that farmers and growers make decisions now so that if no substantial rain arrives, they have a date set to put their plans into action.”

Mr Nilsson said anyone needing support could contact the East Coast Rural Support Trust on 0800 RURAL HELP for free and confidential advice, or visit www.rural-support.org.nz

Those wanting to buy or sell feed could check AgriHQ’s feed noticeboard at www.agrihq.co.nz/feed-noticeboard

He said farmers could also find out if they qualified for financial assistance from the recently established Farm Business Advice Support Fund, a new initiative funded by banks and the government offering support for farmers struggling with farm debt.

“The Hawke’s Bay Rural Advisory Group will also continue to keep an eye on the situation and provide advice to agencies that support the rural community.

“In the meantime, we’re reminding our rural communities that there are plenty of resources out there to help them make the right decisions.”

For more information on the Farm Business Advice Support Fund, visit www.nzba.org.nz/2020/02/25/new-fund-to-get-advice-for-struggling-farmers-is-now-open/

For more information on dealing with dry conditions, visit www.mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/responding/adverse-events/dealing-with-drought-conditions/

6 March 2020

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