Farmers and growers to get $25 million to 'kick start' recovery

Wed, Feb 22
A flood-hit farm in Hawke's Bay

Farmers and growers will receive $25 million worth of government grants to help with the immediate cleanup and recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle.

The package was announced by the Government yesterday and aims to be a "first step" for farmers and growers.

Growers will be able to receive $2000 per hectare, up to $40,000, to remove silt from trees and vines, recovering what can be recovered.

Pastoral and arable farmers can receive up to $10,000 to help with initial on-farm recoveries like repairs to stock-water infrastructure for stock and fencing.

The Government also said they'd provide more support once further assessments are done.

Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor told Breakfast the grants are a way to kick-start recovery efforts for primary industry workers.

"It's money to get out quickly into the bank accounts of people who may not have been contacted, they're in the back blocks, if they're on an orchard and been devastated, who are not quite sure where to go next," he said.

"This will be money for immediate actions."

O'Conner said the money isn't enough to compensate farmers for livelihoods but is a way to move cash flow.

"It's a start; it doesn't compensate anywhere near the loss they will be facing, but it will get them cash flow to take the first steps."

Farmers and growers can apply online; if their internet is out, they can apply through MPI officials on the ground.

Regarding the price tag, O'Conner said the $2000 per hectare number came from growers themselves but acknowledged more is needed.

He encouraged banks and insurance to chip in and support the businesses they partner with.

"It is a reminder to the insurance companies and the banks who are active partners in all these big operations and all these farms and these orchards, for them to step up alongside their farmers and their growers and help them through this.

"We've appreciated the stability of the banks and the insurance system through some really big crises in this country, but they've done okay, and it's time for them to step up alongside Government, central and local, and the community that has been doing their bit.

"We all have to chip in here," he said.


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