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It will take years to recover fully from this year’s drought, even though recent rains have restored soil moisture in many parts of the country, agriculture minister Jim Anderton told a field day at a South Canterbury Monitor Farm today.
A national drought meeting yesterday reviewed the latest information on the drought and Jim Anderton said there were good news stories at last.
“The good news is that soil moistures around most of the country have improved.
“Though the rain has fallen now, and though the ground is wet again, these times are still tough. Many farmers cut stock levels early. Conservative decisions helped to reduce pressure on feed but it takes time for those stock levels to recover.
“The most serious concern now will be feed over winter. Because the drought has already tolled, feed levels will be low. Prices for feed could rise and inflict new pain.
“Far beyond the economic costs there are also human costs. There are stressed farmers out there and I recognise we need to do what we can to support them. We need to be strong enough to care about others.”
Jim Anderton said the network of rural support trusts worked well in supporting communities through the drought.
“I am pleased that last year I took a decision to gain extra funding for rural support trusts in the budget. We provided extra strength just as it was needed.
“The support networks are pushing on to try to ensure everyone who is stressed from the drought receives help they need. There are some farmers who haven’t accessed support or been to the community briefings. We can still reach them. Information is being sent through every channel we can think of."