Support extended for drought-affected South Island

Support for the drought-affected eastern South Island has been extended with an extra $100,000 for Rural Support Trusts and the medium scale event officially extended to February next year, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

Mr Guy met with local farmers in the Hurunui district today and says North Canterbury is the worst affected region with little rainfall all year, despite being well into winter.

“North Canterbury, Southern Marlborough and parts of South Canterbury and Otago continue to experience very dry conditions. Pasture growth is well behind normal for this time of year and with lambing and calving starting, the situation remains serious for some,” says Mr Guy.

“For this reason we are extending funding of $100,000 to Rural Support Trusts in the eastern South Island to carry out drought recovery activities. The North Canterbury Rural Support Trust will be allocated $30,000 of this funding.

“This will help provide practical support and guidance to farmers. Rural Support Trusts have been organising community events, visits to banks, rural professional meetings, one-on-one support and helping with applications for Rural Assistance Payments.

“Many rural people can be reluctant to ask for help, but they need to know there is support. As well as Rural Support Trusts, Inland Revenue can also offer flexibility with tax obligations and there are Rural Assistance Payments for those facing extreme hardship.”

“The local community has been showing support, with North Canterbury Veterinary Clinic members making animal condition and feed check-ups available to farmers at no charge, and some transport companies have delivered donated feed at reduced cost.”

At Fieldays the Government also announced a one-off $500,000 funding boost for rural mental health. In collaboration with Dairy NZ and Beef + Lamb NZ, up to 100 support people are being trained to work for Rural Support Trusts and will be able to recognise and refer those who need support.

The eastern South Island will officially remain as a medium scale adverse event until 22 February 2016.