Dedicated teams have been set up to provide support for Hawke’s Bay farmers and rural communities affected by drought and constrained by the national lockdown.
Hawke’s Bay Rural Advisory Group co-chairmen Wade Nilsson and Lochie MacGillivray say the eight teams cover water, feed, logistics, finance, welfare, animal health, Maori liaison and Wairoa.
“These teams are operational and can provide specialist support in their particular area,” MacGillivray says.
“We are conducting surveys with people in the worst drought-affected areas as well as further afield and are working hard to find ways to support people.
“Our initial survey results show the main issues are around feed and water shortages, soil and moisture deficits, TB movement control and delays in getting animals to the works. We are helping these people in partnership with other agencies.”
The rural community, particularly in Central Hawke’s Bay, faces unprecedented drought conditions. They need help urgently. Some communities are also affected by bovine TB stock control.
“For those we aren’t in contact with, you can still contact our 0800 RURAL HELP number.”
Nilsson says the situation has been changing daily and he urges farmers to check on their neighbours as often as possible to see how they are and offer support if needed.
“The rural community is in the middle of a severe drought along with other significant pressures such as covid-19. The rural community knows how to rally together and support each other. We urge people to do just this and look after each other.”
Nilsson says anyone needing support should contact the East Coast Rural Support Trust on 0800 RURAL HELP for free and confidential advice or visit rural-support.org.nz.
Those wanting to buy or sell feed should check AgriHQ’s feed noticeboard at agrihq.co.nz/feed-noticeboard.
Farmers can find out if they qualify for financial help from the Farm Business Advice Support Fund, an initiative funded by banks and the Government that offers support for farmers struggling with farm debt.
For more information on the fund visit 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/.
The group, made up of representatives from rural and primary sector agencies, is working closely with Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group.