Some things Key can’t be blamed for, nor can he fix

via Stuff

via Stuff

The lack of rain in certain parts of the country is starting to bite.  It’s all very well to have petrol under $1.60 a litre, but with lifestock staring at dusty paddocks, a stronger dollar and low payouts, things aren’t looking good.

“There’s no sign of any rain in the forecast anywhere ahead and so we can only expect that things are going to get worse before they get better,” says Phil Wishnowsky, Wairarapa Principal Fire Officer.

Some rivers and streams are running very low in Tararua, Manawatu, Wanganui and Rangitikei.

Water for irrigation is being rationed, while residents are also being urged to conserve every drop.

“We’ve probably got another week until we’re in another more serious proposition,” says Michael McCartney, Horizons Regional Council chief executive. “We’re desperately need some rain. If we don’t have rain in the next week to 10 days then we’ll probably see up to 50% of our rivers under restrictions.”

At the Mangatainoka River in the Wairarapa, the council is asking people to watch out for a toxic blue green algae, which is growing as the water levels drop. If swallowed, it can make people very sick and can kill dogs.

“We do have some issues with cynaeobacteria starting to build up in a few places on the river. It’s approaching 40% coverage at the moment. We’re looking at a limit of around 50% when we start to put in restrictions,” says John Roygard, Horizons Freshwater and Science Manager.

In the South Island, farmers are comparing the conditions to the big dries of the 1980s and ’90s.

Councils suggest watering cans or a hand-held hoses or buckets if you must water the garden between the scorching hours of 8am to 8pm.

And as sure as night follows day, when the hydro lakes get low, we’ll all get hit in the pocket with higher electricity prices.

The next thing we will start hearing is the whinging farmers on the bludge for government assistance for their drought.  Because farmers don’t have to plan for bad years – they just ask the Government to prop them up like the Blue Ribbon beneficiaries that they are.

Better start that rain dance.  Now.

Are you affected by the Big Dry?


– One News


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  • intelligentes candida diva

    There are beautiful looking fleeces there, perhaps consider shearing the sheep before they de condition.

    I’m not affected and have not heard any concerns as yet from rural folk. Have had rain in last 2 days down south

    That photo of full fleeced sheep does take me back to the old motto “work hard and play hard” rousing in the shearing sheds, now that was a decent days work! It must be time for the main shear.

    • Saggy

      Yep I was a shearer for a few years while at Uni. You know you’ve done a days work and that beer at the end tastes mighty fine.

    • Michelle

      Up here shearing is usually November and May but not the numbers these days

      • intelligentes candida diva

        Same down South Michelle, dairy farms dominate.

  • HSV325

    Yes affected in a good way! Best holiday summer weather in years. Farmers are a business and like all business you have your good and bad times.

    • dgrogan

      And when they were creaming it (pun intended) not so long ago, were they putting money aside for the not-so-rainy-days? We’ve seen it all before.

      • DavidW

        It becomes a vicious cycle when the best you can do in a good year is to pay down some debt and catch up on the maintenance, fertiliser and farm development that you deferred during the last “adverse” season.
        Putting money aside in a business that operates on debt becomes a little difficult.

      • Michelle

        Yep but they won’t be farming for much longer the ones who pay down debt and put it into the farm are the ones that stick round the banks usually sell up the ones who bought a new car, boat or bach
        All the townies see is those showy ones not the others working hard

        The MSM is creating a divide between town and country and it is getting wider and alot of farmers get sick of the MSM portraying them as rich and have money to flash about and how much money they will be making with the payout they assume we are all going to be millionaires, l wish, but we are happy doing our thing as most farmers are and wouldn’t change a thing, well a bit of rain would be nice ;-)

        • dgrogan

          Hope you get some rain, M.


    I don’t think this type of logic applies for a large number of the Greens and Labour parties.
    Everything bad on this planet is the fault of some white conservative man in their eyes and poor old JK fits the bill for them quiet nicely.

    • Martin

      Yep; it’s because he hasn’t put a tax on NZ’s carbon emissions and cut the size of our dairy herds in favour of a smart clean green economy subsidised by taxes on the productive economy and offset by printing money. And multiculturalism.

  • Jafarma

    I think the ‘whinging farmers on the bludge for government assistance’ comment is a bit misplaced Cam. Farmers haven’t had the government shelling out drought assistance $s for droughts for decades, rather indirect support via Rural Trust counselling support etc. This service will likely be even more in demand for those in dairying also facing a drop in payout.
    The assistance will need to come from the Banks as it has done in the past by restructuring of loans and further working capital. Certainly in the mid SI a drought is not so common but in the NNI drought has basically become he norm and Banks/farmers should be budgeting for it.

    • Martin

      I have not checked the figures but someone told me that the number of farmers who commit suicide is higher than the road toll. Where’s their TV ads?

      • Davo42

        True, maybe the police should make them stick to a limit of 100 cows or sheep, 1 animal over and they will get an excessive farming ticket. That will surely lower the farming toll.

        • ex-JAFA

          So they should be counting their stock instead of looking out at the state of their paddocks? To keep safe, they’ll drop to about 80-90 head, and annoy the banks coming up behind them wanting some productivity.

  • yoyoyo

    wow the mood goes from the rockstar economy to dramatic recession in about 2 weeks depending on the milk payout in 1 year….. and suddenly farmers are committing suicide because of it…… sounds like MSM has a leaning towards the dramatic to sell more wares…

  • digby

    I would also agree that the ‘whinging farmers on the bludge for government assistance’ comment is a bit misplaced but my reasons differ to Jafarma. As soon as there is anything atypical about the weather the MSM see it as an opportunity to write a fluff piece as it is emotive and cheap to produce. It isn’t hard to locate a compliant ‘expert’ to state the obvious. Its not the farming community bleating but the MSM using it as an opportunity to sell more crap to the gullible public.
    The other point I would like to make is that while farming is incredibly important to the NZ economy, individual farmers are not. The less effective, and just plain unlucky, farmers who fail are easily replaced by other young keen farmers waiting to be able to purchase their own piece of paradise and lifestyle. Society should not prop up the failing farmer as it only encourages them to take on risk, spend more of their cash, increase/retain debt and do less planning for hard times.

    • Murray Smith

      Society has NOT propped up any falling farmers since the 1980’s Labour government exit plans. I wish townsfolk were more informed.

      • minnie

        Yea, had a relative ask once how much cash payout we got during the waikato drought few years back – had to say sorry, none, just access to counselling if needed and a much larger debt to carry us over!!! No Idea. Then how many times the south has been bailed out by the north sending donated feed down, only to be charged and arm and a leg for it when we needed it!!!

      • digby

        I had not stated that society did, just merely stated that it shouldn’t. My point was that MSM publish such crap that it makes the average person think that it does. Farmers rely on business insurance as much as the rest of the business community.
        But I will say that the farming community has a better business environment (tax / rma etc) than many other industries in NZ due to the power of their votes.

        • Murray Smith

          Last time I counted, my vote was worth………………………1

          • digby

            Yep, but there are a lot of farmers

          • cows4me

            What rot, there are more voters in one large Auckland suburb than farmers in NZ.

      • unitedtribes

        Ron Briely once convinced the Govt to pay out $1000s per ht to pull their grape vines. Dont know how he managed it or who the govt was at th time

  • kayaker

    My b-in-law has been a farmer for nearly 40 years. He never expects anything from the government, he prefers it to say out of his life. He won’t have a bar of Fonterra either.

    • cows4me

      Your B-in-law is a clever man and I wish I didn’t have to have a bar of Fonterra either.

  • Whafe

    Yep, for farming it is “as dry as an Arabs sandle”

    This is farming, the weather is always creating challenges, again this is part of farming.

    The MSM muddle it up, with different types of farming, it is always deemed farmers complain, that’s because a cherry grower doesn’t want rain near harvest, a sheep, dairy farmer etc wants rain…

    NZ farmers get no hand outs per se.

    NZ is dead in the water without primary production, when all said and done, it is the backbone of the country…

    • axeman

      Yep agree and god help you if you want to build a dam and store water for the dry years, because no one else will

  • Rex

    I cannot believe this headline that John Key is not too blame for the current drought! I am positive that with a little digging Angry and Wussell will find Key’s fingers in it all somewhere. Surely Key taking a holiday in Hawaii must have been the cause of part of the drought at least? Even as I type I lay odds that Angry and Wuss have their heads together working out John Key’s culpability! Then the MSM will get in on the act along with the German,Hager and Co.

    • simon

      Exactly! If John Keys and his evil right wing government hadn’t of gutted the emissions trading scheme, there would be no global warming and we’d be enjoying the stable, perfect climate we had when Helen was in charge.

    • ex-JAFA

      Hager’s already written the book, and is now helping Salinger write the weather reports to back it up.

  • KGB

    I remember reading an article about milk production. I think it was 8 litres of water to produce 1 litre of milk. This alone is why farming is not sustainable. Farms today must be well resourced, and well managed. If it is not drought, it’s floods. Too many farmers continue to be dependant on grass and climate. Like all business, those who fail tend to be those who don’t accept change.

    • Only 8 litres? My good that is efficient. Check out this…

      500 litres for 1kg of rice.
      We need more dairy farms!

    • Murray Smith

      “Too many farmers continue to be dependant on grass and climate.” What a bizarre comment !!
      Hello, this is nature we’re taking about. Wake up.

      • KGB

        Ask the US if they depend on grass and climate? No, because they have adapted. Stock are raised in barns (climate). Stock are fed supplements, not grass.
        Agree or not, that is the future of farming, and why successful farmers in NZ are now following this practice.

        • DavidW

          And just what are the supplements meant to be made of pray tell?
          Really KGB, you have to think it through before leaping into print with obviously ignorant statements like that.

          • minnie

            Why is it that chooks have to be free range, pigs have to be free range but cows have to be caged!!!

          • Steve

            I think he means grain fed

          • Murray Smith

            I think most grains are grown outdoors too. Just a wild hunch.

          • KGB

            Yes but they are grown in better climate areas and bought in. I am not suggesting feeding palm-curnel is sustainable long term either. But I come from a farming family who spend $120k a month on supplements, who have built wintering barns, and summer shelters. They have invested heavily and do okay during bad seasons. Just saying.

            edit spelling

          • rangitoto

            Like the Oklahoma dust bowl. Was a real good climate for growing grains until the rains failed and the soil blew away

          • cows4me

            Have you talked to you farming family lately, I think you will find things aren’t that rosy, especially if you have “invested heavily”.

        • cows4me

          The US is insane. It’s not sustainable but please feel free to believe otherwise. Hundreds of farmers are going bankrupt in the US daily.

        • cows4me

          Many of these so called barn system are in deep poop, they rely on government/state subsidies, many aren’t even breaking even, and you want this for NZ?

        • terrynaki

          KGB,on this payout no profit there,grass is cheapest by along way.
          I have a cousin in kansas who has barns but doesnt use them,is a industry leader as he has gone back to grass based farming,has field days where hundreds turn up to learn and see what hes doing.

    • terrynaki

      Really? just what we need another townie giving us Gems like”to dependent on grass and climate”.
      Go to the bathroom ,look in the mirror and give yourself an uppercut.

  • Skydog

    Good bit of rain this morning in North Canterbury. First time I’ve smiled at the rain for ages.

  • richard.b

    I am doing my own rain dance as we speak. I have about 2 days water left in the tank. I try to get the family to go for the two minute shower but teenage girls don’t seem to get that concept..

    • Spiker

      In 3 days it will be 0 minute showers for all.

  • grumpy

    Anyone involved in farming will tell you that you never get a high production year at the same time as a high prices year.

  • Kopua Cowboy

    This “whinging farmers on the bludge for government handouts” nonsense is becoming tiresome- and it is a lie. There are no handouts available, and there is nobody looking for one.

    In other news, it isn’t the blue-green algae in Mangatainoka I’d be concerned about, it’s their beer that makes me crook!

    • JimmyFreedom

      Maybe it’s because the water from the beer comes from the river? (It used to anyway)

      • minnie

        Swam in the Mangatainoka as a kid and many of the other rivers in the area, one that a local abbatoir spilled into (60s & 70s) during wet and dry summers, slimey goop everywhere, slipping over and getting tangled in it etc, never got sick ever!!!

        • MaryLou

          Yep – that’s an image that will stick with me all day!

  • Bryan

    as usual the same imbalanced reporting from TV One the dairy got about 7.50 last year but most knew that was a bumper and had all their budget set on 5.00 and took the extra and paid down debt so we are really back in terms of payout to where we were two years ago, so it’s simply dropped back from the bumper bonus year to normal.we have had overnight two days in row here in christchurch

  • DavidW

    One would expect real journalists (experienced, trained and educated that they are) to understand the simple premise that all farming is purely a means whereby you turn sunshine into money. Some systems are more efficient and some are less efficient but generally the sun shines, the grass grows, the animals eat the grass and the sales of animals or animal production returns the money.
    You can fancy it up all you like with supplements and irrigation, barns and automation but those things represent added costs that need to be outweighed by the financial advantages of introducing them into the farming system.
    note for the pedants: obviously I am ignoring the social advantages of some components of the farming system like having relief milkers, robotic machines to reduce labour and release one spouse from milking duties, getting a new car or having a holiday in a good year and so on.

    • Murray Smith

      My father, who was a farmer, once said, “All you can expect out of farming, is three meals a day and a day off when you want one”

  • oldmanNZ

    The greens will blame john key for not doing anything, like they blame him for not resolving the child poverty by giving parents more money or feeding kids at school. Then they claim about child obesity?
    So the greens will blame key for not providing farmers a feed reserved, or ban farming in those areas altogether, so there would be no need for irrigation. Or blame him for stuffing the economy up so the prices are low.

  • caochladh

    “Better start that rain dance.” Finally, a use for the Material Girl

  • pirate vs ninja

    Of course it’s JKs fault! He’s spent the last 6 years poisoning us all slowly with his Chem Trails, experimenting with cloud seeding, and eating babies. Now that we really need him to make rain, he’s taken his eye off the ball and buggered off to his Hawaiian lizard-lair. Why, oh why didn’t we vote GreenTaliban when we had the chance?!

  • minnie

    Ugg even put myself off that one haha! I think Im trying to say that the rivers would be better now than they used to be but there was no one testing them then and warning of algae growths etc so we just kept swimming as there was always slime in the summer!

    • MaryLou

      Normal algae slime and jellyfish we used to through at each other – it was the offal thoughts (awful thoughts?) that got me…!

  • LisaGinNZ

    NZ ‘news’ makes me giggle… EVERY summer it is “oh noooes, another drought!!!!” and EVERY winter “oh noooes, another flood!!!!” COME ON farmers – get some water storage sorted. Crikey…… (isn’t this normal part of farming?!) Or does NZ just like to whinge about everything ….? (I know answer already thanks)

    • minnie

      HaHa Spring and Autumn usually perfect, plenty of rain and plenty of sun = plenty of grass. Unless the rain is too heavy or it is too overcast for the sun to shine – thats farming … gotta luv it!

    • Michelle

      try getting a consent to build any new water storage areas, after you go through council, regional council, iwi, and grease all their palms with gold you can still end up with nothing
      we had made plenty of silage & hay and squashing spiders

  • CheesyEarWax

    John Key is not to blame for the drought, but he is to blame for the potato shortage!

  • mike

    I live in Palmy and haven’t heard anything about water restrictions…

  • Dog Breath

    It was becoming obvious beginning of December that weather was going in the wrong direction. Grass was nearly white in many parts of Marlborough.

  • Beetle

    Farming is no different to investing in the share market. There will be good years, and bad. It’s not the taxpayers’ role to prop up people who consciously choose to take on the expected gains and likely risks of farming or shares..

  • TreeCrusher

    The way to hedge against drought is to store water in reservoirs. Most town and city water supplies do this successfully for drinking water.

    Interesting how a “dodgy socialist dam” would ensure at least one catchment wouldn’t succumb to a drought should it hit their region.

    Water storage is the way to make our land more productive and less reliant on the vagaries of mother nature.

    • But it will kill a river…ironic…create storage so120 farmers can last through summer, and at the same time kill a river for everyone else…yeah thats a good plan.

      • TreeCrusher

        Cam, I think you are mixing to discussions; water storage and land use. Off-line water storage will not kill the river. In fact it would probably save the river during periods of low flow as the base flow could be augmented with water from the reservoir.

        Land use is a different debate. In an ideal world we build sufficient water storage and irrigate all arable land in New Zealand. We would then (or during) have a debate about the risks and rewards of different land uses. This is where we might say in some catchments the environment is more important so we choose less intensive land uses, but in other catchments we might let the balance tip a little more in favor of higher returns.

        Even where less intensive land uses are chosen, higher, long term, productivity can achieved by water storage and irrigation schemes.

        • Nige.

          take a look at your first comment again.

          who is mixing two discussions?

          • TreeCrusher

            Don’t think I have mixed the two discussions in my first comment? No where there have I said what the end land use should be, or not be as the case may be. Just that water storage is a good thing and we should be doing more of it to improve drought resistance.

            Again, building the “dodgy socialist dam” will not kill the river. It is what they choose to grow with the water that will determine that.

            Ultimately I think the country should be paying to build large infrastructure projects that will improve the long term productivity of the country. Whether it be water storage, power schemes or tunnels to get Aucklanders to the harbor bridge quicker. Those sorts of “socialist” schemes are far better than paying people to sit on their derrière, IMO.

      • HRSinc

        Pretty sure your improved research will find its more like 600 farmers not 120

  • Matt Pearce

    Seems this is happening most summers.. Maybe we need more water storage, do you support any new projects cam or just oppose them?

    • I support water storage when it isn’t going to turn the river toxic and there are no government subsidies.

  • Nige.

    Grapes (as in vines) are green in Marlborough….

    but thats to be expected. The grape growers have to prove that they can sustain their needs before they are allowed to grow.

    One set of rules for some…another set for another.

    Bad farmer give good responsible farmers a bad name.

  • Ok, I know that droughts are real – my Dad is a farmer and I have seen what can happen when they get bad – and I am also sure that this drought is real, but man-oh-man what amazingly healthy sheep!!! If I could get some of those in Kenya then I could feed heaps of starving and depraved *pats bulging stomach* white men (like me) yearning for a good feed of NZ lamb :-)