It will be a long haul for a significant number of farmers, growers and orchardists – and urban folk as well – to get back to where they were pre-Cyclone Gabrielle.
Livelihoods have been ruined and we’ve all seen the pictures of land and buildings covered in silt and debris in Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Northland, Coromandel, Waikato and other North Island provinces.
Federated Farmers and other ‘Team Ag’ agencies have already put countless hours into contacting food and fibre producers whose road access and telecommunications have been severed by flooding and slips, helping set up workarounds to address their immediate needs and begin the recovery.
It’s gratifying that Feds’ advocacy to IRD, banks and others to suspend usual hard deadlines have not fallen on deaf ears. Feds members will have received emailed advisories on these and other topics, including advice on OSPRI issues, insurance, disposal of dead stock and around consenting for replacement of culverts and other farm infrastructure.
For members who haven’t got internet back up again, our 0800 327 646 line is a way to get questions answered.
Another excellent resource on mobile phone (and computer) is the FEDSVoice app. Search for it and download on ioS or Android devices, and you’ll be able to listen to the latest audio and podcasts from not only Federated Farmers but feeds from a wide range of broadcast media. Hit the Mic button and you can record your own thoughts and requests for sharing with fellow farmers.
Federated Farmers’ three key messages as the response phase moves into recovery are to do with feed, donations and volunteering.
The Farmy Army
Feds National Vice-President Wayne Langford says it’s really heartening to witness the number of farmers and growers largely unaffected by the two cyclones willing to step up and help those slammed by the slips and floods.
“We’re aware of plenty of instances of neighbours and farmers from adjacent districts making direct contact with impacted landowners, finding out what they need, and sending in equipment and people. Good on them.”
Feds has stood up the Farmy Army, a co-ordinated service of volunteer farmers, contractors and other rural folk familiar with fencing, chainsawing, machinery use, animals etc., who have proved so effective with the Christchurch and Kaikoura/Hurunui earthquakes.
“We’re asking anyone willing to help to go to the Feds website (www.fedfarm.org.nz), click the Cyclone Gabrielle Farmy Army button, and fill in the quick survey,” Wayne says.
“Just as importantly, we need farmers and growers who need help to also jump online (there’s a Register for Help button). With both sets of survey information, we can match up need with offers, prioritise and ensure the right help is going where and when it’s needed.
Feed Co-ordination Service
Federated Farmers is once again undertaking the role of administering the Feed Coordination Service. This re-started service matches individuals seeking feed or grazing to those with surplus feed and available grazing, although transportation is not coordinated through the service. Go to the Feds website, wwwfedfarm.org.nz to register. This service is also open to those Southland and Otago farmers who are grappling with very dry conditions being experienced.
Please use this co-ordination service so that nothing goes to waste. The feed situation, while okay in most places at the moment is going to be an ongoing issue in the coming months. We encourage people to register feed they have available with the service so that we have a basis for planning ahead. By optimising the response, we’ll keep transport and roads freed up for other recovery tasks.
When this issue went to print, there were already more than 60,000 bales and some truly generous offers of grazing registered with only five requests for feed or grazing to the service. What we recognise is that it may not be needed this month, but as we move into winter feed shortages could really bite.
There are options for farmers who have maize or palm kernel to also donate through the co-ordination service. Contractors have come to the party on this.
There are a variety of funds set up in response to rural needs post-Cyclone. Federated Farmers recommends the Farmers Adverse Events Trust givealittle page (links on our website). As a charitable trust, donations quality for tax credits. As at February 22, more than $87,000 had been donated.
The government has put up $25 million for recovery grants to help undertake urgent work, including fencing, and clearing silt to save fruit trees and vines.
“Up to $10,000 is available for pastoral and arable farmers to help with initial recovery, such as repairs to water infrastructure for livestock, and fencing – and that’s hugely welcome,” Wayne says.
“But once you start buying fencing gear and getting in diggers to remove silt, it’s easy to burn through that sort of money. Donations made to the Adverse Events Trust will enable purchase of supplies and others needs as the Farmy Army gets out to the worst hit farms.”