Government announces $5m aid package for quake farmers
The Government will inject $5 million into quake-affected regions to help out the farming, fishing and wine industries, a move that will be welcomed by farmers who are "really struggling" said Federated Farmers.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said the aid package would include:
· $4 million for Mayoral Disaster Rural Relief funds (Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough) to help with non-insurable assets such as tracks, on-farm bridges and water infrastructure;
· $500,000 to support rural recovery coordinators in the Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough Districts;
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· $500,000 extra funding for rural support trusts;
· $200,000 per month to mobilise and support skilled primary industry students and workers for farm recovery work;
· Rural assistance payments (RAPs) from Work and Income NZ - emergency payments for farmers in real hardship.
"The earthquakes this week have had a major impact on farmers, fishers, growers and the wine industry. The damage is widespread and severe and will need the help of the Government to recover," Guy said.
Feds president William Rolleston said the necessity was for coordinating aid, and for that reason the Helpline 0800FARMING (0800 327 646) should be used.
"Some farmers have had six people people come up their driveways. What we need is skilled people who can repair fences and water tanks, and who understand farms are dangerous places," he said.
Asked if the funding was sufficient, he said it was "never enough" but "we don't know the extent of the devastation". Water was a big issue, including knowing where the leaks were; on one farm he had visited on Thursday, the farmer said he had filled a tank with water, only for it to disappear almost immediately as it leaked away.
After the same visit, Guy said many farms remained isolated due to road closures and some dairy farmers were spreading milk back on pasture in a controlled way. Most had backup power but lack of supplies was an issue for more isolated farms.
"Overall this is a real blow to North Canterbury given this is an area that's been suffering through drought for nearly three years. However there is a whole-of-Government response underway and the community is pulling together to get through this.
"This is only a first step, and we will be working closely with local communities to do all we can to help people recover and get back on their feet," Guy said.
Meanwhile other groups are raising funds to help farmers. Since Tuesday NZ Farming has raised more than $38,000 through its givealittle donation page. Other givealittle pages include the Red Cross, which has raised $10,000.