Canterbury farmers need all the help they can get right now

The Government needs to pull all levers to activate as many funding streams as possible to support Canterbury’s flood-affected farmers who are facing a monumental clean-up, MP for Selwyn Nicola Grigg says.

“I’ve written to the Primary Industries Minister Damien O’Connor today asking him to declare an ‘adverse event’ for the Canterbury region.

“This morning’s announcement of $100,000 for the Canterbury Mayoral Relief Fund is welcome but it’s really just a drop in the bucket given the scale of the event. The North Canterbury Rural Support Trust needs to be well-funded in an event like this too.

“I have also asked Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni alongside Mr O’Connor to activate Enhanced Taskforce Green as they did after the Southland floods in early 2020.

“Back then they released $500,000 as well as $100,000 for the Mayoral Relief Fund and $100,000 for the Rural Support Trust.

“Taskforce Green usually provides jobseekers to help clear fences and rubble but the real need is in machinery and manpower, so I would expect the Government to be preparing to send Army personnel too.

“The task ahead is monumental. Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of fences, vegetation and winter feed crops have been washed away and plans need to be in place to begin the clear up as soon as the water subsides.

“About 300ml of rain has fallen and the district wide nature of the floods means local feed supplies, heavy machinery and human resources are already taken up.

“Canterbury farmers are a pretty self-sufficient bunch but they are already exhausted and they need surety from this Government that they’ll be supported.

“I’m appealing to Minister O’Connor and his West Coast roots – he will be well aware of the huge and lasting impact floods cause and I would hope this will prompt him to act as quickly as possible.

“I have spoken to our local Federated Farmers, Rural Support Trust, Student Volunteer Army and Groundswell today and will be co-ordinating with the MPI representative at the Emergency Management Centre to ensure they have an accurate understanding of how many farms need help, and what sort of help that will be.”