The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is expressing grave concerns about the continuing severe drought, particularly in the central part of the Region, and the significant impact it is having on farmers, their families, and wider community.

Council Chief Executive, James Palmer, says the combination of the drought, with Covid-19 restrictions is an unprecedented challenge for the rural community and the Regional Council is working to support farmers who are in unrelenting and exhausting conditions, trying to get feed for their stock, and make plans with diminishing choices.

“Our region is used to managing dry conditions, yet this drought is particularly prolonged and severe. The Council’s monitoring systems show monthly rainfall well below normal in the Ruahine Ranges, Heretaunga and Ruataniwha Plains and southern Hawke’s Bay for seven consecutive months. Soil moisture is at its lowest recorded levels for this time of the year at Bridge Pa, Ongaonga and Crownthorpe.”

A Westerly flow has dominated over the past few months, and warm seas contributed to hot temperatures through summer. This pattern of weather that has contributed to the dry conditions doesn’t look like it will change over the next few months.

Mr Palmer says many farmers are in unchartered territory, faced with tough decisions about stock management and feed, and tired after battling dry conditions for months.

“The Regional Council is contributing people with IT, management and communication skills, who are working closely with the Civil Defence Rural Advisory Group, the lead agency for the drought response, to help those people most impacted by this crisis.”

The Rural Advisory Group, in partnership with the East Coast Rural Support Trust, has set up satellite teams to directly help farmers with feed, mental wellbeing, animal welfare, finance, and water access.

“We have established a drought crisis hub on our website which is updated daily with the most current advice and information from Government agencies and local organisations. We continue to monitor the weather systems closely, and work in partnership with others to support our rural community.”

“To those in the rural community severely impacted by drought – you have our support and concern. Reach out for help, be kind to yourself, and surround yourself with a strong team. We are here to help and together we can get through this.”

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