Federated Farmers' resources at capacity

Terry Copeland
Terry Copeland
The increase of issues confronting rural New Zealand has stretched the resources of Federated Farmers which is being forced to prioritise as much as it can.

''We've been working on a policy regarding prioritisation,'' chief executive Terry Copeland said.

''There are so many issues, which means we can't do what we would like to do. It would be better if we had more resources, but our workload is full.''

Federated Farmers employs 60 staff in 11 offices around the country, five of which are in the South Island: Timaru, Ashburton, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill.

It deals with a broad range of concerns over such issues as rural security, water flows and allocation, livestock misappropriation, walking access, new employment laws and staff.

The Mycoplasma bovis outbreak has also added to Federated Farmers' workload.

''The workload has increased significantly in the past 12 months,'' Mr Copeland said.

''There has been uncertainty also since the change of government and some issues have got bigger, such as fresh water, biodiversity and climate change.''

No extra staff had been appointed since the M.bovis outbreak and it had been a case of reallocating resources.

''We're funded through membership and have a fixed income; we don't have the funding resources to support extra staff at the moment so we're working better with what we've got.''

Membership nationwide had been stable for the past couple of years at 13,000 and Mr Copeland said the plan was to boost membership to make further hiring possible.

''But we're just stretched at the moment.''

Staff had been working alongside MPI in Wellington and had been particularly busy in Canterbury, the region most affected from a Federated Farmers' membership point of view regarding Mycoplasma bovis.

As of last week, Canterbury had 46 infected properties and 20 active; the regions next most affected were Otago (11 infected, four active) and Southland (14 infected, one active).

''It's just not a one-stop fix; we're looking at mental health and support working with the Rural Support Trust and MPI making sure farmers had best access to what they required.''

In Wellington, Mr Copeland said they were working with MPI to formulate templates to make it simpler for farmers and graziers to obtain compensation.

''The problem is, compensation is very complex.''

A total of 571 claims have been received by MPI of which 331 have been completed or part-payment made; 15 claims are pending payment.

A total of 52,112 animals have been culled.

-By Chris Tobin

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