Real drought relief requires direct action

The government’s drought declaration for large areas of the North Island will mean little without direct assistance, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says.

“The reality for most farmers is that although the declaration recognises their plight, it offers little in the way of direct, practical help.

“While they receive some financial flexibility through the declaration, issues of animal welfare and farmer well-being require more direct assistance.

 “Some of these people are facing major hardship. The stress cuts across families, and it cuts across communities.

“Therefore, ensuring pastoral care and emotional support is available should be a priority for the government.

“South Island farmers have offered to provide reserve stock feed to their drought-affected North Island colleagues. It’s now incumbent on the government to ensure there is transport made available to get it to the farms that need it the most.

“The drought has a real effect on farmers and the economy. It requires some real focus and assistance,” Damien O’Connor said.