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Published: 2014-05-30 00:00:00

Waikato drystock farmers continue to face some significant challenges in the wake of the drought over summer and shouldn’t hesitate to ask for help if needed, a multi-agency group monitoring the situation heard yesterday.

A teleconference involving Federated Farmers, the Rural Support Trust, Beef + Lamb NZ, the Ministry for Primary Industries and Waikato Regional Council discussed how rain in April had kick-started recovery from the drought. However, while regular rain has fallen in May, it has been at much lower levels than normal.

Despite this, dairy farmers were reported to be in good spirits as their pastures have recovered well and they are planning for the season ahead. But drystock farmers continued to face challenges.

“We understand the pain that these drystock farmers are still going through and we encourage them to reach out for help if required. There’s no need to suffer in silence. Contact your bank, Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb or the Rural Support Trust if you need advice or assistance,” said Waikato Federated Farmers president Chris Lewis.

The Waikato Rural Support Trust chairman Neil Bateup said: “Farmers are resilient and will always face challenges but we recognize the difficulties drystock farmers in particular are facing. You don’t have to face those difficulties alone – we’re here to help.” The trust’s freephone number is 0800 787 254.

Beef + Lamb extension manager Andrew Jolly said hill country used by drystock farmers in the Waikato required significantly more rain to replenish soil moisture levels there.

“Drystock farmers have struggled to put weight on stock. Grazing heifers has been difficult. When rams went out ewes were under a lot of stress and this is likely to impact lambing in spring,” Mr Jolly said.

He said Beef + Lamb will continue to proactively provide information to drystock farmers to help them continue to recover from the drought.

“We will continue to keep the Minister for Primary Industries and other stakeholders informed of the situation on the ground over the winter months.”

The teleconference decided this would be the last scheduled catch-up in the wake of the drought but officials would reconvene if the situation warranted.