Government declares medium-scale drought in top of South Island Region

Government declares medium-scale drought in top of South Island Region

Amidst intense dry spells gripping the Marlborough, Tasman, and Nelson districts, Agriculture Minister Todd McClay has announced the classification of drought conditions in the region as a medium-scale adverse event. This decision comes in acknowledgment of the significant challenges faced by farmers and growers in the area.

"Parts of Marlborough, Tasman, and Nelson districts are in the grip of an intense dry spell. I know this has made day-to-day conditions on the ground extremely tough for farmers and growers," expressed McClay, highlighting the severity of the situation.

The decision followed a meeting of the Top of the South Drought Committee, where an urgent update from Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff on-site reinforced the gravity of the circumstances.

"It is clear conditions are tough. This decision will unlock further support for farmers and growers, including tax support," added McClay, emphasising the importance of providing assistance during these challenging times.

Rural Communities Minister Mark Patterson, who recently visited the Marlborough area to assess conditions firsthand, emphasised the government's commitment to providing support. 

"Today’s classification is on top of funding of up to $20,000 we made available to the Top of the South Rural Support Trust last month to provide extra support," Patterson remarked, underlining the proactive measures taken to ensure early assistance reaches those in need.

MPI has been actively collaborating with various stakeholders, including central agencies, sector groups, regional bodies, and farmers and growers nationwide, to prepare for the impacts of El Niño since its onset last year. Despite these efforts, forecasters predict the dry weather will persist into the autumn, posing continued challenges for agricultural communities.

"I know farmers and growers in other parts of the country are also experiencing dry conditions, and we’re keeping a close eye on the situation in those regions," McClay acknowledged, highlighting the broader scope of the issue.

Farmers and growers seeking support are urged to reach out to their local Rural Support Trust at 0800 787 254, emphasizing the importance of accessing assistance promptly.

In declaring the medium-scale adverse event, the government aims to provide vital resources and assistance to mitigate the impacts of the drought on the region's agricultural sector. With ongoing monitoring and support mechanisms in place, efforts are underway to alleviate the burden on farmers, growers, and rural communities affected by the prolonged dry spell.