Drought status extended to South Island’s Buller and Grey districts | 1 NEWS NOW

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Communities Damien O’Connor has classified the Grey and Buller districts as now facing a medium-level drought.

A herd of cows grazes a drought-hit paddock.

A herd of cows grazes a drought-hit paddock.

Source: 1 NEWS

Those two regions join parts of the lower North Island which were declared to be in drought just before Christmas.

Mr O’Connor said while the West Coast usually has plenty of rainfall, an unusually dry and hot start to summer had led to the drought.

“We are keeping a watching brief on neighbouring areas, including Murchison, which have also missed out on the rain,” he said in a release.

“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.

“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.”

The status give the Rural Support Trust access to funding of $50,000 to help their communities, including setting up local events and working one-to-one with farmers.

The status lasts for six months.

Mr O’Connor added that normal drought recovery measures including tax flexibility and income assistance options will be made available where needed.

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