How has the drought affected the rural sector and how has ANZ helped?

Farmers around the country have been dealing with extreme weather.

Farmers around the country have been dealing with extreme weather; Hawke’s Bay Senior Relationship Manager Marcus Bousfield gives some insight about what farmers are dealing with in his region.

“In late February we started to get some rain in the region, which will significantly improve what was looking like a pretty negative outlook, but for some recovering will still be a challenge.

We hadn’t had any significant rain since November, and we had some extreme winds  all the way through until January, and that really put paid to any summer feed that would have helped a lot of farmers get through what is traditionally a dry time.

This also came on the back of a pretty tough autumn in 2016 as well which led to animal health issues, so to have another event within twelve months is going to be a big challenge for a lot of people.”

How tough is it for those affected farmers?

“It’s very tough, it hasn’t been localised to certain districts that are notoriously dry at this time of the year – it’s basically gone right through the region and what that means is there’s less decisions, to use an overused phrase at the moment, ‘less levers to pull’.

They’ve got less options on the table and they’ve got to take what the market offers, and that’s not a huge amount at the moment in terms of what they might have budgeted.  That may well leave two years in a row of reasonable losses that start to accumulate on the books.”

How are ANZ supporting customers through this? 

ANZ put a drought assistance package in place for Northland farmers, as soon as the Government made the announcement.

Looking down the track - will this have a flow on effect?

“I think there is certainly going to be a rebalancing again for the national ewe stock because the east coast holds around 20-25% of the breeding ewe stock.  With a situation like this, numbers get reduced and we’ve already seen that last year after the autumn dry and commodity prices trending down.

There is also a very a topical point here that’s relevant to farmers all over the country around water storage.  We understand the pressure that farmers are coming under, there are some solutions out there that can ease that pressure around irrigation and water storage, and we need to be able to balance those with environmental factors and on-going health of the resource.”