‘Better off with M.bovis’ – Farmer relays concerns to O’Connor

Rangitata MP Jo Luxton, Laurence Rooney, Honer Rooney (7) and Agricultural Minister Damien O’Connor at the Rooney Farm yesterday. PHOTO: LDR / ADAM BURNS
Rangitata MP Jo Luxton, Laurence Rooney, Honer Rooney (7) and Agricultural Minister Damien O’Connor at the Rooney Farm yesterday. PHOTO: LDR / ADAM BURNS
“I wouldn’t want to go through this again.”

This was the enduring feeling for dairy farmer Laurence Rooney who believes he would have been better off if his farm caught M. bovis after “taking a hit” for the Ashburton town during the May floods.

Laurence and Philippa Rooney received a fleeting visit from the Agricultural Minister Damien O’Connor yesterday to his flood-ravaged Ashburton Forks property and are facing a long farming and financial road after losing half of its herd during the May 30-31 Canterbury floods.

Rooney said it was good to illustrate the scale of the impact to the Minister.

“More people in his position need to see this,” he said.

“We’re not holding our breath for any favours though.”

Their farm, which sits ominously close to the North Branch of the Ashburton River, copped a battering and the family was expecting about $500,000 worth of damage and a “million dollars in lost income”.

O’Connor admitted that the initial $4 million Government relief would only go so far.

“It’s a matter of working through and prioritising and that those who need assistance gets a fair opportunity to get something,” he said.

“Obviously it’s not going to cover all the costs that farmers have incurred,“ he said.

“But it’s a start.”

Assessing flood damage in the regions has been somewhat of a theme for the Minister in the past few weeks.

O’Connor said the May floods were more extensive compared to flooding on the West Coast earlier this month.

“There are more farmers affected here,” he said.

“Some of the scouring on farms here and the impact on community infrastructure has been far greater.

“The farmers are pretty resilient here.”

The question of money in the ongoing flood recovery has been a major sticking point, particularly among the flood-hit rural sector.

“We would’ve been better off getting M.bovis and culling the herd starting from scratch,” Rooney said.

The Ministry for Primary Industries paid out more than $180 million for M.bovis compensation last year.
“We have to help with immediate recovery,” O’Connor said.

Rangitata MP Jo Luxton, who joined O’Connor at the Rooney’s property, said it was good for the Minister to see the extent of the impact now that the water had subsided.

- by Adam Burns, local democracy reporter


I have little sympathy.
You're in business in a location that is prone to the flooding that actually did occur, what did you expect would happen?
Did you do proper risk assessment? Did you look at insurance options? Did you set aside some of the millions of dollars you've earned in the past good years as a fund to cover any possible damage? Or did you simply rely on the Govt to bail you out.
What other business in the area were damaged by the floods? What Govt support will they be getting? Oh, I can answer that one, none!
You and your ilk were proudly driving your big flash tractors through the towns a week or so ago whingeing and whining about Govt interference in your business. Now here you are begging for Govt interference in your business. Make up your mind.

I have every sympathy for those who have suffered such devastation but little sympathy for the ignorant bashing farmers at every turn. Maybe try farming and then comment.

If asking a few pointed but fair questions is to be counted as farmer bashing then the national party has sunk to a new low.
As we are so often told the modern farmer is a businessman. How many farmers are qualified at business? Yet they feel qualified to express uninformed opinions outside their specialised interests, just like you. Maybe if they had broadened their education and qualifications to develop an understanding of business management they might stop repeating the same mistakes season after season, year after year and not need the taxpayer to come interfere. After all, that's how non farming businesses operate.
Me, while I have never "farmed" anything larger than a small life style block, I come from a farming background from both parents side of the family, have cousins and friends who are farmers and I have a worked in the agricultural industry all of my working life and have associated tertiary qualifications in the field.

Everybody's an expert, typical townie response there ird, You are quite happy to denigrate farmers then why are you happy to eat their produce.....