Farmers worried about drought

This summer has been hot and dry for many parts of the South Island and the Wairarapa in the North Island. There have been high temperatures and very little rain for most of January. Some parts of Marlborough, where they grow grapes, have had no significant rain since June. Water storage ponds used for irrigation are nearly empty.

The Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, visited farms in Canterbury to see the problem. If the government decides this is a drought, farmers can get some government support – for example a delay in paying income tax. However, Mr Guy said he is not yet ready to say this is a drought. He says farmers are managing. Some farmers are selling animals because there is not enough grass. This is the time of year when farmers make hay for winter feed but they cannot make enough hay this year.

The fire risk is very high. One volunteer fire brigade in North Canterbury has had to fight a fire every day since New Year’s Day. One fire started from a camp fire which spread by the wind, another fire started from a spark from farm machinery. There is now a fire ban in most places.

The weather forecast for the next few days is for more of the same weather.

Listen to March 4th 2013 to hear about a drought two years ago in the North Island.


• drought – no rain on the land for a long time (pronunciation: drout)
• pond – small lake
• irrigation – bringing water to the land, from a hose or some other way
• Primary Industries – industries where the product comes from the land e.g. forestry, wine, dairy products, meat, fruit
• volunteer fire brigade – local people fight fires; they are not paid
• ban – not allowed

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