After pressure from local MPs and farming organisations, the Government has officially declared a drought in Otago and Southland.
Laura Gray, Beef + Lamb NZ Central South Island Extension Manager, joins Rural Exchange from Alexandra to discuss the recent weather and how to best prepare for future droughts.
“Some farms in the region hadn’t seen rain since September due to the abnormally dry, putting extra pressure on irrigation and stock,” she said.
This week has brought some silver lining, with Ms Gray pointing out that most the regions have received upwards of 50ml of rain so far.
While inland Otago is especially dry this year, Ms Gray explains that South Island farmers are typically prepared for increasingly dry summers.
“They expect for the worst and hope for the best,” she told RadioLIVE.
Ms Gray recommends that farmers consider long-term effects of weather up to a year in advance, and sticking to a plan.
Farmers in Southland and parts of Otago have been offered special relief payments to help them meet essential living expenses.
Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said on Friday that the Government's Rural Assistance Payments would be extended to the districts of Southland, Invercargill, Gore, Clutha, Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes.