Funding boost for flood-stricken farmers and growers

A state of emergency has been declared for the flood-stricken Canterbury region, as farmers begin the clean-up after devastating heavy rain.

Damian O'Connor visited the region today to talk to farmers and officals. Image: RNZ
Damian O'Connor visited the region today to talk to farmers and officals. Image: RNZ
From Friday to Monday morning, a massive 545mm of rain was recorded at Mt Somers in the Canterbury high country, MetService said, while the main centres of Christchurch (110mm), Ashburton (155mm), and Timaru (105mm) - were inundated over the same period.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor today declared an adverse event for the Canterbury region, unlocking government support for farmers and growers.

“My decision to classify this as a medium-scale adverse event ensures funding of $500,000 for flood recovery measures,” Mr O’Connor said during his visit to Canterbury with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and other ministers today.

“The funding will help speed up the recovery of farming businesses, and includes wellbeing support and specialist technical advice.

“The money will be used for recovery grants, to enable the region’s three Rural Support Trusts to provide extra help to farmers, and for other flood assistance where needed.

“We will continue to assess whether further support is required as the full extent of the flooding becomes clearer."

There had been widespread flooding and significant damage to property and the road network, he said.

“It’s putting further pressure on farmers who have been battling drought and we’re committed to helping them get through.”

Mr O'Connor would speak with officials and farmers today about how the Government could assist rural communities.

“Based on the advice I have received from Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff based in the area, the scale of impact is beyond the communities’ ability to cope.”

The Government had already made an initial contribution of $100,0000 towards flood relief.

Other recovery measures being considered include an Enhanced Taskforce Green work programme to assist with clean-up and recovery, Rural Assistance Payments to help farmers with essential living costs, and flexibility through the Income Equalisation Scheme.

MPI is working closely with Civil Defence Emergency Management staff, industry groups and others to help with the recovery effort, including the animal welfare response.

“Support is available for farmers who are short of livestock feed, or who have had baleage and fodder crops washed away or damaged by floodwaters,” Mr O’Connor said.

HOW TO GET HELP

• The national Feed Coordination Service can help connect farmers with supplementary feed which has been donated or listed for sale. The national feed coordinator Kate Wood can be contacted by email on kate@ruraldirections.co.nz

• Farmers needing expert support to do a feed budget can contact the Feed Planning Service by phoning 0800 BEEFLAMB (0800 233 352) or 0800 4 DairyNZ (0800 432 479 69).

• Farmers who need wellbeing support should call their Rural Support Trust on 0800 RURAL HELP or 0800 787 254.

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