OPINION: When Trade and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor arrives back in the country in a few days' time, don't expect him to be waving around a piece of paper saying NZ has nailed free trade agreements (FTAs) with the UK and EU.
“My decision to classify this as a medium-scale adverse event ensures funding of $500,000 for flood recovery measures,” O’Connor says.
He says the funding will help speed up the recovery of farming businesses, and includes wellbeing support and specialist technical advice.
“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.
“We will continue to assess whether further support is required as the full extent of the flooding becomes clearer.”
Approximately 400 millimetres of rain has fallen on parts of the region, creating 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.
“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,” O’Connor says.
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 says.