More money for cyclone-hit farmers and growers - Govt

Mon, Mar 6
A flood-hit farm in Hawke's Bay

The Government has announced an additional $26 million boost to help farmers and growers recover from Cyclone Gabrielle after a first wave of grants saw huge uptake.

Farmers and growers in Hawke's Bay and Tairāwhiti have faced unprecedented levels of damage due to Cyclone Gabrielle, which saw fields inundated, crops destroyed, and farm animals trapped amid floodwaters.

Recovery Minister Grant Robertson announced the extension to the recovery grants for farmers and growers on Monday.

The funding extends the initial $25 million farmer and grower grant package that was launched two weeks ago, which has now seen more than 2800 applications and over $17 million paid out so far.

"We knew there would be more need during the response phase as people took time to take stock and work through their clean-up from Cyclone Gabrielle," Robertson said.

"As with the response to Covid, we need to be nimble, flexible and responsive to immediate needs."

The boost to grants will bring the Government's overall primary sector support to $55 million in the wake of the devastation wrought by the cyclone.

Applications for the clean-up grants are open until 20 March, but those in hard-to-reach areas can apply up until April 3, according to the Government.

Robertson also hinted at additional support in the months ahead for cyclone-hit regions.

"Ministers are working on the next steps of support as the regions move to recover and rebuild from these events," he said.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the $55 million in funding was being used for "saving vital trees and vines, clearing silt to improve farm access, and making repairs to stock water systems, culverts, and fencing.

"We have been on the ground in the affected regions talking with farmers and growers. They’ve told us the grants are providing certainty of immediate funding, which has given them the confidence and reassurance to start remediating their farms and orchards."

The first round of grants for farmers and growers was announced less than a fortnight ago on February 22.

Growers have been able to receive $2000 per hectare, up to $40,000, to remove silt from trees and vines and to recover what's left.

Meanwhile, 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.

Last month, O'Connor told Breakfast the grants would just be a "first step" for farmers and growers. "This will be money for immediate actions," he said.

"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."

O'Conner said the money wasn't intended to compensate farmers for their livelihood but was a way to get people back on their feet.

"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.


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