The grass is a little bit greener for local farmers recovering from the effects of this year’s drought after they received a small windfall this month. One-off grants from a $265,000 Mayoral Drought Relief Fund went to those most in need, for the partial reimbursement of transport costs.
Hauraki District Mayor Toby Adams says the number of applications to the fund was overwhelming, with claims totalling $860,000.
“That just goes to show the level of need out there and how bad this drought really has been,” he said.
“We had to prioritise the available funding of $265,000 to those most in need, according to the information provided on the application forms and the criteria provided by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) who put up most of the funding.”
Plea for help
The Mayor says MPI responded to a plea for help from local Mayors back in May.
“The effects of the drought were bubbling away in the shadow of Covid-19 and hitting our farmers really hard in the pocket,” he said,
“The three Mayors (Hauraki, Matamata-Piako, and Thames-Coromandel), local MP Scott Simpson and Hauraki Māori Trust Board Chairman David Taipiri wrote a letter to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Conner and MPI got out the eftpos card straight away.”
Not out of the woods yet
Overall, MPI allocated $500,000 to farmers in north Waikato and Northland, with $250,000 of that tagged for farmers in the Thames Valley area. Hauraki District Council added $10,000 to the local fund and Thames-Coromandel Council contributed $5000.
A Mayoral Advisory Fund Committee chosen for their farming experience and local knowledge assessed the applications, with one application accepted per business.
“We’re very grateful to MPI and to the Mayoral Advisory Fund Committee for generously giving up their time to ensure the fund was distributed as equitably as possible,” the Mayor said.
“We hope this grant will go some small way towards helping our farmers recover from one of the worst droughts ever in recorded history. Many have started the new season well behind the eight ball and they’re not out of the woods yet. We all need to continue to get in behind them and show them our support.”
He urges all farmers to make use of the support networks that are available.
“Being involved in this process has really highlighted to me how many local organisations are out there offering all kinds of support to our farming communities. I’d like to acknowledge the great work they’re doing.”
For further support contact Waikato-Hauraki-Coromandel Rural Support Trust 0800 787 254