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Published: 2010-04-22 00:00:00

MEDIA RELEASE from Waikato Regional Drought Committee
The number of drought-related farm visits being undertaken by the Rural Support Trust in the wider Waikato region is running at a much higher rate than the big dry in 2007-08.

The Waikato, along with Papakura and Manukau, were declared medium-level drought zones two weeks ago, and support for farmers in those areas is being coordinated by the trust.

Since the drought declaration the trust’s helpline 0800 787 254 has received a steady stream of calls from farmers making inquiries about what forms of assistance are available.

The trust’s Neil Bateup said that last week about 35 farms calling in required a follow-up visit from a trust advisor, and another dozen have required follow-up visits this week.

"That level of follow-up visits in the past fortnight is occurring at a much higher rate than in 2007-08," Mr Bateup said.

"Another trend we are noticing is that in the last drought the people calling us were mostly younger farmers and sharemilkers under strain. This time round the callers needing follow-up are coming from a wide variety of farms."

Mr Bateup again stressed that farmers should talk to the trust as early as possible if they were under stress.

"We can either work with farmers to help them deal with their issues or put them in touch with people who can provide direct support."