Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021

Canterbury flooding: $500,000 in support unlocked for farmers and growers

Reinstating transport links and repairing the alternate route while the Ashburton Bridge is out of action is the main priority for the flooded Canterbury region, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

The Government has declared the flooding as an “adverse event” for Canterbury, meaning $500,000 in funding can be unlocked for farmers and growers.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor made the announcement on Tuesday.

“The [$500K] funding can flow through to those directly on the ground to support the farmers who have been hit,” Ardern said.

Ardern surveyed the damage to the Canterbury region by air this morning.

“It is quite devastating, there is a lot of work to do. A big clean up job lies ahead of us,” she said.

Ardern said it was clear from the air that some farmers have lost some of their winter feed.

“You could see winter feed had been affected, you could see how for some farmers they’ll be completely cut off from accessing winter feed, you could see damage to fencing and of course the impact on transport links.

“We could see just from the air a lot of broken trees, shingles all through properties that will need to be cleared alongside fencing damage,” she said.

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

“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.”

O’Connor said they will continue to assess whether further support is required as the full extent of the flooding becomes clearer.

“About 400mm of rain has fallen on parts of the region, causing widespread flooding and significant damage to property and the road network.

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

A state of emergency has been declared for the Canterbury region.

“I’m on the ground in Canterbury today to speak with officials and farmers about how the Government can assist rural communities,” O’Connor said.

“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.”

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,” O’Connor said.

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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