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Farmer morale rising with new pasture growth

Two days of scattered rain over the past two weeks has been enough to encourage new pasture growth, helping to raise morale amongst Waikato’s farmers.

That’s the view of the Waikato Primary Industry Adverse Event Cluster core group, which convened on Tuesday (2 April) to collectively review the very dry conditions and how farmers are coping.

“The amount of rain that fell on farms on Monday varied greatly across the region,” said Rural Support Trust chairman and group spokesman, Neil Bateup. “But, combined with rain from a couple of weeks ago, it’s been enough to get things going, with paddocks greening up already.

“For some dairy farmers though, the rain and pasture growth has come a little too late and they’ve already started to dry off herds.

“We have also heard reports that some farmers have started eating into their winter reserves, so there could be challenges come spring time,” Mr Bateup said.

“However, forecasters are predicting that autumn in the top half of the North Island is going to be warm, which could bode well for pasture growth. And by the beginning of May, we should see a return of the usual rainmaking cycles,” he said.

Overall, it would appear that farmer spirits have lifted markedly across the region, so the group has decided to downscale its meeting frequency to every month, Mr Bateup said.

“We’ll be keeping an eye on the conditions, and encourage farmers to keep monitoring their positions and make decisions as they need to.”

The core group includes representatives of Waikato Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Ministry for Primary Industries, Rural Support Trust, Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, Rural Women New Zealand and Beef + Lamb monitoring how the dry conditions are impacting on farmers.

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