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Help for dry Northland welcomed

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/02/2017
The declaration will facilitate modest financial support towards counselling and advisory services with flexibility around tax for those worst affected. © Getty Image The declaration will facilitate modest financial support towards counselling and advisory services with flexibility around tax for those worst affected.

Government help for Northland, in the grip of its fifth drought in eight years, is being welcomed.

On Friday the government declared the drought in Northland to be a medium-scale adverse event, which triggers additional support for struggling farmers.

"This is recognition of the extreme dry conditions farmers and growers are facing," Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said.

Federated Farmers' Northland provincial President John Blackwell says the situation definitely warrants action.

Farmers were increasingly seeking advice and help in what was rapidly becoming a distressing situation, he said.

The declaration will facilitate modest financial support towards counselling and advisory services with flexibility around tax for those worst affected.

He encouraged farmers to de-stock now because it was a tougher decision down the track.

Mr Guy said extra funding would now be available if required to coordinate support through local organisations like the Rural Support Trusts.

In extreme cases, Rural Assistance Payments (RAP) will be available for farmers in severe hardship.

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters says RAP is means and asset tested and very few farmers will qualify unless they happen to lose everything.

As Northland's MP he wrote to Mr Guy on January 16 alerting him to the growing problem so Friday's announcement was welcome.

He wants the government to accelerated depreciation on farm environmental works.

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