Drought declaration ruled out.

No-one has asked the Government to declare an adverse event – such as a drought – in any area of the country, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

Guy is visiting the Waikato today to see firsthand the challenging dry conditions facing the region’s farmers.

While some might have been expecting a drought to be declared, the minister was instead talking up predicted inclement weather.

Rain is forecast to hit the upper North Island this week as the remnants of Cyclone Lusi hit New Zealand,” Guy said.

“Any rain will be gratefully received by farmers.

“Most farmers are managing the dry conditions in Waikato and Northland, but it’s becoming difficult for some. The last few months have been very dry as pasture has browned off.

“The Government has not been asked to declare an ‘adverse event’ in any region. [The ministry] has been providing me with regular updates and I’ll be watching these dry conditions around the North Island closely.

“Farmers are not interested in handouts, but they want to know the Government understands the challenges they are facing. That’s why I’m here today to see firsthand how they are coping with the conditions.

“In general, farmers are doing a good job managing their feed and making early decisions to dry off milking cows or sell stock.”

Guy encouraged farmers to seek professional advice and use Rural Support Trusts, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ, which were able to provide information about managing dry conditions.

Farmers could also approach IRD for tax flexibility on a case-by-case basis.

“Last summer New Zealand suffered through the worst drought in 70 years,” Guy said.

“However, we rebounded strongly with excellent growing conditions for the rest of 2013, allowing feed reserves to be built up. This has been reflected in growing export figures and a strong forecast payout from Fonterra.

“Farmers have shown incredible resilience to adverse events before, and remain the backbone of New Zealand’s economy.

Brown Mang Onwuka

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