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New Zealand Set to Maintain Drought Advisory Even After Rainfall

New Zealand will probably keep a drought declaration until September, even as rains in some regions boosted soil moisture after the most widespread dryness in three decades curbed pasture growth, the government said.

“It will take time to build up enough grass cover to provide feed for winter,” Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy said in a statement e-mailed today. “The dry conditions may have ended in many parts of the country, but there are still major challenges ahead.”

Whole-milk powder climbed to a record last week as the drought, declared across the entire North Island, curbed output. Milk collection slumped 16 percent last month from a year earlier, Auckland-based Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd., the world’s largest dairy shipper, said. Parts of Nelson on the South Island and Tauranga on the North Island’s north coast were flooded after heavy rains over the weekend, the New Zealand Herald said yesterday.

“It’s very important that farmers plan ahead for how they will manage their feed supply,” said Guy. “A large amount of supplementary feed has already been used over summer and will be in short supply later this year.”

A weakening low pressure system and associated rain is expected to move across central New Zealand early tomorrow morning, MetService said on its website today.

Soil moisture deficits are reducing, enabling pasture to start recovering, according to the government. The drought may cost NZ$2 billion ($1.7 billion) as the conditions threaten economic growth, the government estimates.

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