Drought relief for farmers

Drought relief for farmers

Farmers in South Canterbury and North Otago will feel the financial crunch of the drought-like conditions shortly, with Westpac gearing up to assist its hardest hit customers in the regions.

Without rain over the next couple of weeks it seems inevitable that large parts of the South Island will become drought zones. 

SEE ALSO: Let's speak up to stop the silent killer

Westpac’s Head of Agribusiness Mark Steed says the bank is preparing to assist its customers who are doing it tough in the regions.

“We’re hearing that some areas South of Timaru have had less than 100mm of rain since June. It is so dry that some stock is being fed grain on dirt with no feed in sight. The rivers are running very low, with some areas running out of stock water, and farmers are starting to feed-out supplementary feed which is hugely expensive at this time of year. Dry-land dairy farmers have dried off some cows and are looking to fully dry off if we don't get rain in the next month or two,” Mr Steed said.

He says this will create potentially dire financial effects as stock conditions take a hit.

“If significant rains don't come there will be a potential shortage of winter feed with majority of dry-land crop yields around South Canterbury significantly back. In fact, in many cases winter feed crops that were sown late haven't struck, a feed shortage will potentially push price of feed up, which under current circumstances is a concern for many farmers.”

Steed says it was crucial farmers kept in contact with their bank and other professionals so they could plan for the coming months. Westpac is committed to supporting its customers through the cycles and times of adversity.

“We’ve already spoken to a number of our customers and we would urge any other affected farmers to get in touch so we can work out the best solution for their circumstances. Our bankers are able to make immediate decisions on the ground.”

These types of circumstances are stressful for farmers. Westpac ambassador Sir John Kirwan has conducted a number of workshops in rural areas over the last year. More workshops are planned in 2015.

Farmers who are physically isolated can utilise some of the resources Sir John Kirwan has put together on www.depression.org.nz/rural

SEE ALSO: Let's speak up to stop the silent killer


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