Opinion: It’s getting dry out there already

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It’s not officially summer yet but it’s sure starting to feel like it.

I had the pleasure of being in Cromwell just last week to enjoy its hottest spring day on record – 33.3degC – while a heatwave is expected throughout the country this week.

Niwa is predicting a hot and dry season, which is a bonus for holiday-makers but not so welcomed by the region’s farmers.

With less rain falling throughout the district in November, soil moisture levels are lowering, leaving many calling out for rain. It’s in times like these that those farmers who have invested in irrigation and taken advantage of the former government’s irrigation fund will be breathing a sigh of relief and be able to maintain their productivity.

Talking farming, I’d like to congratulate Fonterra on its ambitious commitment to improve waterways, and show Kiwis just what’s going on beyond the farm gate. The dairy co-operative has launched a plan to help improve the quality of New Zealand’s waterways, with a strong focus on sustainable farming and manufacturing and I believe it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Over the past year there has been a lot of discussion around waterways, farm management practices and a perceived rural/urban divide and I believe a move like this was necessary to encourage a better understanding of farming practices.

I have always supported our local farming community and while they have already invested heavily in environmental initiatives, like fencing off waterways, this latest plan shows they are ready to take their water quality commitment to the next level. I’d like to be positive about this and commend Fonterra on their actions.

The festive season is fast approaching, as I travel through the district I am seeing more and more Christmas decorations, while the Oamaru and Temuka Santa Parades kicked off the silly season over the weekend.

Crowds also flocked to the Southern Canterbury A&P show in Waimate, where we were treated to free cake to celebrate the opening of the new pavilion. The flash new building cost $800,000 and was completed earlier this year.

Locals have every right to be excited by their newest building, which will be open for the public to use for all sorts of events like weddings, funerals, birthdays and meetings. I am so proud of the team behind the build who have created such a fantastic asset for Waimate and the wider Waitaki district.

This year’s show was once again a hit, with people coming from near and far, enjoying the sunny day – a vast contrast to last year’s event which had to be called off due to flooding. I just love the grass-roots feel of A&P shows such as this one. These events are what New Zealand is based on, what many of us grew up with, and it’s reassuring to see provisional towns still valuing this tradition.

Jacqui Dean is the MP for Waitaki