Rain pushes back drought to 50/50 chance

Wet weather pushes possibility of formal drought declaration for Gisborne and East Coast out by 3-4 weeks.

Wet weather pushes possibility of formal drought declaration for Gisborne and East Coast out by 3-4 weeks.

John Moroney

THE rain this week has pushed the possibility of a formal drought declaration for Gisborne and the East Coast out by three to four weeks, and the chances of it happening at all are now 50/50, says Rural Support Trust spokesman John Moroney.

The trust decided to form a drought committee this week and that process will be formalised on Monday.

“The million-dollar rain arrived a day or two after we made that decision, much to the delight and relief of croppers and pastoral farmers,” Mr Moroney said.

“We will need good follow-up rain soon to prevent the spread of the drought-like conditions, but it has certainly pushed any need for a drought declaration for the district out by a considerable period.

“I would say by three to four weeks at this stage.”

At the beginning of the week it was estimated a declaration would be needed within two weeks.

Mr Moroney said on Tuesday he would have said there was a 75-25 percent chance of a drought.

“Now I would say that estimation is back to 50/50.

“It is a bit early to say for sure but my feeling is we could have dodged the drought bullet altogether.

“Time and further rain will tell.”

The drought committee formed on Monday will monitor farm soil moisture levels, rainfall, pasture growth, feed covers, stock condition and stock water levels.

“If our monitoring starts to show a marked deterioration in those factors then we will start building a case to go to the Ministry of Primary Industries for a drought declaration for the region,” Mr Moroney said.

“If we do need to get a declaration we will have a support package available to farmers.”

Over the past three droughts in the district the Rural Support Trust has put forward drought management plans to help farmers and croppers.

Those plans involved a disciplined approach by farmers, weekly monitoring of rain, soil moisture and feed levels, a feed budget, animal health, prioritising stock, targets on stock sales and the need for a recovery plan post-drought.

“Hopefully we get the follow-up rain needed to avoid a drought situation.”

THE rain this week has pushed the possibility of a formal drought declaration for Gisborne and the East Coast out by three to four weeks, and the chances of it happening at all are now 50/50, says Rural Support Trust spokesman John Moroney.

The trust decided to form a drought committee this week and that process will be formalised on Monday.

“The million-dollar rain arrived a day or two after we made that decision, much to the delight and relief of croppers and pastoral farmers,” Mr Moroney said.

“We will need good follow-up rain soon to prevent the spread of the drought-like conditions, but it has certainly pushed any need for a drought declaration for the district out by a considerable period.

“I would say by three to four weeks at this stage.”

At the beginning of the week it was estimated a declaration would be needed within two weeks.

Mr Moroney said on Tuesday he would have said there was a 75-25 percent chance of a drought.

“Now I would say that estimation is back to 50/50.

“It is a bit early to say for sure but my feeling is we could have dodged the drought bullet altogether.

“Time and further rain will tell.”

The drought committee formed on Monday will monitor farm soil moisture levels, rainfall, pasture growth, feed covers, stock condition and stock water levels.

“If our monitoring starts to show a marked deterioration in those factors then we will start building a case to go to the Ministry of Primary Industries for a drought declaration for the region,” Mr Moroney said.

“If we do need to get a declaration we will have a support package available to farmers.”

Over the past three droughts in the district the Rural Support Trust has put forward drought management plans to help farmers and croppers.

Those plans involved a disciplined approach by farmers, weekly monitoring of rain, soil moisture and feed levels, a feed budget, animal health, prioritising stock, targets on stock sales and the need for a recovery plan post-drought.

“Hopefully we get the follow-up rain needed to avoid a drought situation.”

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