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Published: 2010-04-15 00:00:00

The Rural Support Trust’s Waikato arm is co-ordinating relief to farmers and others who have affected by medium-level drought conditions which have affected Waikato, Papakura and Manukau.

The trust freephone number in the Waikato is 0800 787 254.

The trust’s work is being supported by a Waikato Regional Drought Committee made up of representatives from central Government, local councils, industry organisations and other agencies.

Farmers have been encouraged to put their hand up early if their families need help or advice.

"The sooner you ask for help the better in terms of reducing stress on you, your family and your farm," says the trust’s Neil Bateup, himself a dairy farmer.

Another dairy farmer Peter Buckley, the chairman of regional council Environment Waikato and of the drought committee, says: "We all help our mates in tough times, so don’t hesitate to ask for help."

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s policy manager for North Island regions Phil Journeaux, says Government, local council and industry bodies are all keen to help farmers deal with the impacts of drought.

"If agencies can’t help with your problem directly, we’ll try to put you in touch with someone who can."

All agencies are stressing that farmers shouldn’t be shy about coming forward for assistance. The problems this year come on top of the ongoing problems caused by the drought in 2007-08.

"Everyone understands clearly that the rural community needs a helping hand in these conditions," says Neil Bateup.

For more information on drought-related issues call the Rural Support Trust on 0800 787 254.