Saturday, March 22, 2008

Drought hits NZ farmers hard

Two trees in the garden have died during the past few months. Though the cause of the deaths is a matter for conjecture, the drought must be a prime suspect. There has been little rain since last (southern-hemisphere) spring, and no rain is likely, in some areas, until May.

For me, the dry conditions are a mere inconvenience. I will have to cut the trees up for firewood. Is my saw equal to the task? Am I equal to the task, at age 67? The last time I cut up a tree, the exertion made me dizzy. "Don't die!" my wife pleaded, seeing my suddenly white face. She needn't have worried. I was fine after about 10 minutes.

The drought will not be so kind to the country's farmers, who face a drop in income, in some cases, of more than $100,000. Altogether, the drought is expected to cost about $1.24 billion - a lot of money in New Zealand. Sheep and beef farmers will suffer most, as they have already been hit by two years of poor profitability.

Dairy farmers are in a better position to withstand the effects of the drought, because of the much higher payout for dairy milksolids this year.

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