Saturday, April 13, 2024

Recovery fund set up to help producers hit by Cyclone Gabrielle

The Government has pledged an initial $4 million to help farmers, growers, whenua Māori owners and rural communities mobilise and co-ordinate recovery efforts from Cyclone Gabrielle, Agriculture Minister, Damien O’Connor announced today.

Mr O’Connor said the storm’s impact was unprecedented, with milk collection disrupted, orchards inundated and livestock losses across much of the North Island.

“This is a dynamic situation and we are responding accordingly to help the rural sector to respond with this initial funding of $4 million,” he said.

“This is a difficult time for many, with thousands of people’s homes and businesses affected by this large-scale adverse event – the Government is here to provide support.

“I expect we will provide more support once a full and thorough assessment of the damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle across the North Island is complete. That destruction includes flooded farms and orchards, damage to vital roading and electricity infrastructure, and isolated communities.”

The Minister said conditions continued to make it difficult to assess the full extent of crop damage, livestock losses, and disruption.

“Widespread power outages are affecting dairy farmers’ ability to milk cows, especially in Northland. Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff are working closely with sector groups and processors to minimise any potential animal welfare issues.”

“It’s expected damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle will exacerbate feed issues experienced by some farmers in flood-affected areas. MPI is restarting the national Feed Working Group, which is a partnership with sector groups and specialist providers to monitor feed availability.

“This recovery mobilisation fund will help provide extra resources for sector organisations to support affected areas,” Mr O’Connor said.

The Government has already declared a National State of Emergency and announced an $11.5 million community support package to assist in the response to Cyclone Gabrielle.

It is only the third time in the country’s history that a National State of Emergency has been declared.

“This is an unprecedented weather event, which for some rural communities comes just weeks after flooding in the upper North Island and damage caused by Cyclone Hale,” Rural Communities Minister, Kieran McAnulty said.

“The MPI Rural Communities and Farming Support, On Farm Support, Animal Health and Welfare, and Māori Agribusiness teams are on the ground in the regions helping where they can.”

Associate Agriculture Minister, Meka Whaitiri said regional staff from MPI were focused on assisting the primary sector.

“We’re being regularly updated on the wellbeing of people and the welfare of their livestock,” she said.

“We will work directly with sector groups and organisations, including Rural Support Trusts, to identify and focus help to the areas of greatest need.

“Māori agribusinesses and their staff have been affected across the motu and we will help them get through this.”

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