It’s official – Northland is suffering from drought.
Agriculture Minister David Carter said:
The Government has declared Northland as a medium-level drought zone, following a recent meeting of the Northland Rural Support Trust, and a drought recovery package is now in place to help affected farmers,” says Mr Carter.
All three of Northland’s districts – the Far North, Whangarei and Kaipara – are affected.
Drought relief measures offered by the Government include tax assistance for farmers under the Income Equalisation Scheme, farm management advice, welfare support and funding for Rural Support Trusts to provide help.
In the bad old days this sort of help would have been regarded as very parsimonious, but these days farmers know that it’s not the government’s job to bail them out of bad weather.
Those of us who remember farming pre-1984 might recall that the expectation of government assistance could encourage bad practices.
Farmers sometimes delayed making decisions in the hope that the government would step in. When it did, those who had sensibly destocked early, for example, got no help but those who’d delayed got subsidies.
It wasn’t good for farming and it wasn’t good for taxpayers either.
Drought is difficult and depressing, but it’s not an excuse for subsidies.
What is needed is practical help and sustained wet weather.
Federated Farmers has started on the practical assistance, It has reactivated its Droughtline – 0800 DROUGHT (0800 376 844), – which matches farmers with surplus feed with those in need.
As for the weather, all we can do is pray – let it rain.