Groups raise funds for flood-hit farms

The devastating flooding caused by Cyclone Gabrielle has created heartache around the country, leading several rural Southland organisations to band together to raise funds to support the restoration of flood-hit farms.

Southland Federated Farmers and the rural charitable trust Ag Proud are behind the initiative, in conjunction with PGG Wrightson, Farm Source, Rural Co and Farmlands, to raise funds and resources that are most needed to be deployed across all regions affected by the flooding.

Ag Proud trustee Jon Pemberton said the focus was on medium to long-term support in the rural sector, hopefully to help the farms get up and running by calving and lambing.

"We’re down here watching what’s going on, going ‘this is a bloody nightmare for these poor buggers’.

"There will be young guys that have pumped 10, 20 years of their life into these farms.

"Building a farm up isn’t just a nine-to-five job, it’s a pretty big commitment and a lot of risk-taking to get it established, so you’ve got to appreciate the sacrifice a lot of these guys have made to get these farms to where they are.

"We’re looking at it and we’re [seeing] young farmers crying on TV — that shows the level of worry and hurt that these guys are carrying."

He said the initiative began as a joint conversation between the rural organisations to figure out what was most needed to support the affected regions.

"We can’t just race up there, they’re still doing emergency response and they’re still finding, or trying to contact people.

"A hundred farmers from Southland racing up to help out is probably putting some more pressure on the resources there, so the last thing we want to do is put the communities at more risk ... by trying to go in with goodwill to try and sort it out."

"The big thing was making sure that the [northern counterpart of] Federated Farmers had materials ready to go.

"Initially we’re just gathering all the funds because there’s going to be multiple things outside fencing.

"You’re going to have water schemes, troughs, tanks, you name it, all that stuff’s been damaged, or gone on some of these properties."

Southland Federated Farmers president Chris Dillon said it was difficult to provide short-term relief from this end of the country, but the initiative would aid in long-term relief with things such as fencing and labour.

"The neighbouring Federated Farmers provinces are the ones helping out on the ground right now, but this is going to be a long recovery and it’s going to take a lot of people going forward.

"People like to donate tangible stuff as opposed to money, but just the way it is at the moment, what they need is the cash for that first recovery and then it’s logistics of getting stuff there."

Donations are able to be made to the initiative in the stores of the affiliated organisations, or online at the Federated Farmers website.