Small silver lining for drought-stricken farmers

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Rain clouds have been few and far between this year, but a small silver lining is on the way for drought-stricken Thames Valley farmers.

Hauraki District Mayor Toby Adams says the council is now accepting applications to a $250,000 Mayoral Drought Relief Fund provided by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for partial reimbursement of feed transport costs.

“People can apply to the fund from Monday, June 22, until Monday, July 13, – that’s only a three week window, so if you’ve been hit in the pocket for transport costs of supplementary feed, or cartage of livestock for grazing, make sure you get those forms filled out and back to us as soon as you can."

Anyone who lives in the Thames Valley area and owns livestock (including equine) with a predominantly pasture diet can apply to the fund.

However, it’s expected applicants will have a feed plan in place and the recovery of pasture covers must have been very slow due to low autumn rainfall.

The Thames Valley area includes Hauraki, Thames-Coromandel and Matamata-Piako districts, as well as eastern parts of the Waikato District.

A Mayoral Advisory Fund Committee chosen for their farming experience and local knowledge will assess applications and distribute the grants.

The maximum grant available per application is $5000, with one application accepted per business.

“This process has really highlighted to me how many local organisations are out there offering all kinds of support to our farming communities. I’d like to acknowledge the great work they’re doing and urge all our farmers to make use of the support networks that are available,” says Adams.

“We’re also very grateful to MPI for their contribution. The effects of the drought have been bubbling away in the shadow of Covid-19 for some time and despite recent rain, many of our farmers are facing a really tough winter. We all need to get in behind them and show them our support.”

The MPI funding is in response to a letter to the Agriculture Minister from Adams and two other local Mayors (Matamata-Piako and Thames Coromandel), local MP Scott Simpson and Hauraki Māori Trust Board Chairman David Taipiri.

The MPI has allocated $500,000 to farmers in north Waikato and Northland, with $250,000 of that tagged for farmers in the Thames Valley area. Hauraki District Council has added $10,000 to the local fund, with Matamata-Piako and Thames-Coromandel councils also contributing.

Application forms are available on the Hauraki District Council website, local council offices and at some rural supply stores.

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