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Tuesday, January 12

Government keeping close watch on dry conditions



The Government is keeping a close eye on dry weather in parts of the country and will consider drought assistance if conditions worsen, says Agriculture Minister David Carter.




"Northland is rapidly approaching drought status and the eastern coasts of both islands are very dry, particularly parts of central Otago, coastal Canterbury, parts of Gisborne and inland Bay of Plenty.




Mr Carter says Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry staff are actively monitoring the situation and liaising with local Rural Support Trusts.




"Expected rain in parts of the country this week will provide relief, but it may not be enough to remove the risk of drought in some regions. A combination of high temperatures and wind means that low soil moisture content is still a concern.




"I have instructed MAF to provide me with regular updates on the situation.




"I know that many farmers are still recovering from last year's drought and have been working hard to build feed reserves, restock their farms and improve stock conditions.




"Drought has a devastating effect on farmers, rural communities and the economy. The impact is felt not just by farmers, but by all New Zealanders."




Mr Carter says the Government is committed to offering support as required and processes are in place to provide special assistance if a drought is declared.