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Post-quake $5 million primary sector support package

UPDATED: Nathan Guy says MPI is working on a separate package which would focus specifically on the seafood industry.

Jason Walls
Fri, 18 Nov 2016

The government has issued a $5 million support package for the primary sector in an effort to aid those affected by this week’s earthquake.

This follows a $7.5 million wage subsidy package for employers in the quake-hit areas around Kaokoura the government announced yesterday.

Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy says the magnitude 7.8 earthquake which hit upper Canterbury has 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,” he says.

The package today involves funding of at least $5 million and includes:

  • $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
  • $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.

Mr Guy says farms remain isolated due to road closures and some dairy farmers are having to spread milk back on pasture in a controlled way.

“MPI is also working closely with the Kaikoura community to analyse the impact the earthquake has had on local fisheries.”

He says the quake 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.”

Another seafood support package on the cards
Mr Guy told media the magnitude of the quake for rural communities and businesses is going to be far more significant than $5 million.

He says it’s too early to say whether the support package has the scope to be extended, but says it’s likely to run over one of two years.

Meanwhile, he says MPI is working on a separate package which would focus specifically on the seafood industry.

Mr Guy says the package will focus on the Paua and rock lobster businesses.

“I’m getting final advice over the weekend – it’s clear to me we will need to do some science to understand what happened in the water.”

He says from the indications he has, maybe half of the paua biomass in the region is now above water and dead.

Fonterra chairman John Wilson has expressed his sympathise for farmers affected by the quake.

Speaking about this morning’s milk price forecast increase, he tells NBR the last few days have been difficult for farmers.

He says Fonterra has been having trouble collecting milk from some farmers and some homes are still without electricity and water.

“It’s incredibly difficult for them, hopefully, we can get in and get milk picked up for them over the next few days and help get them back to at least some normal routine.”

On Monday, NBR reported about a dozen dairy farms near Culverden in North Canterbury were unable to milk cows this morning because of damage to milking platforms caused by the major earthquake.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury dairy chairman Michael Woodward said at the time worst hit appear to be around Rotherham, Waiau and Culverden.

“Power is slowly starting to be returned to the area. But there are multiple farms on the other side of the Waiau River that won't be able to milk through their sheds for a while to come.”

Jason Walls
Fri, 18 Nov 2016
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Post-quake $5 million primary sector support package