More money for affected families

Lydia Pomeroy
Lydia Pomeroy
Mid Canterbury farmers continue their battle with Mycoplasma bovis and, in some instances, still facing ongoing battles to get compensation claims paid.

An extra funding boost of $250,000, set aside to help farming families nationwide facing challenges dealing with M. bovis, will help.

M. bovis programme north South Island regional manager Lydia Pomeroy said the number of legacy claims (open for longer than 60 days) in the Ashburton district stood at 13 late last month. There were still four active confirmed cases of the disease in the Ashburton district.

"Nine of these [legacy] claims have just reached the 60-day status," she said.

"We are working hard to assess these claims."

"Nationally, just over $100million has been paid out in compensation, with the majority of claims taking an average of 23 working days to complete.

"A total of 30 farms have been infected, and 26 are now free of the disease - allowing them to start getting back to business."

Minister for Rural Communities and Agriculture Damien O'Connor said the funding would allow Rural Support Trusts to help farming families.

"I know that rural families are worried about some of the challenges facing them, including the ongoing uncertainty created by the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.

"Those concerns sit alongside ongoing worries about bank debt and how best to meet the challenges of improving our waterways and meet New Zealand's climate change commitments.

"To that end, I've spoken to the Rural Support Trusts and, alongside our Mycoplasma bovis programme partners, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and DairyNZ, we've set aside an extra $250,000 to help with their work talking to farmers on the ground, Mr O'Connor said.

"The trust will develop a plan for using the money, in addition to the other farmer support mechanisms provided by the M. bovis programme and the DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand compensation assistance teams.

"The Rural Support Trusts do a fantastic job and are well placed to deliver additional help. They're experienced and practical people who can coach farmers through difficult times.

"The Government has already boosted funding for the Rural Support Trusts from $386,500 a year to $626,000 for their daily work. Outside of that, the trust is budgeted to receive more than $1million in the next year for M. bovis-related work.

He had met all the major banks and Rural Support Trusts and asked financial institutions to make sure they were working together to help farmers where required.

"I'm extremely proud of the ongoing high performance of our primary sector. We're getting record prices for our food and fibre.

"In the Budget we set aside $229million to spend on things like boosting advisory and extension services.

"A farm debt mediation scheme will be a safety net for farmers and improvements to NAIT will help prevent some of the tracing issues we've experienced with M. bovis. Soon we will release an industry-backed plan to ensure the sector gets the skilled workers it needs."

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