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Farmers need to take time to work out futures

Farmers need to take time to work out futures

Farmers and growers affected by floods need to think through their situations carefully and not rush any decisions, Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton said today.

He said a six-page brochure of technical advice for farmers and growers on flood recovery had been printed and was being distributed throughout the flood-affected regions now.

Mr Sutton said it was important for people to work through their options thoroughly, and not rush anything they might regret later.

He said it was understandable that people would want to get right into fixing up their farms straight away, but for many who had suffered severe slipping or silting, or whose land was still wet or even underwater still, that was not possible.

"The Government has already provided Rural Sector Assistance for affected farmers and growers. These payments, available for at least the middle of the year, are to enable farmers and growers to provide for their families' living needs, relieving them of a burden while they assess what rebuilding their farms and businesses need.

"IRD, ACC, and other government agencies have flexibility to deal with people affected by this disaster, and there is no need for people to feel pressured. Take some time out, talk to your accountant, your neighbours, the rural support teams, and your families. Agricultural consultants can also give valuable assistance with advice on farm recovery.

"Government announced yesterday it will fund 75 per cent of on-farm infrastructure costs and 90 per cent of crop re-establishment costs, with a $10,000 threshold. There is no cap on how much any individual farmer can receive. There are also New Start grants for those forced off farms by this disaster to ensure they will have equity of at least $65,000 for their new lives."

Mr Sutton said it is expected that funding would be distributed by local committees with agricultural recovery co-ordinators and local farming and forestry representatives to validate all claims.

Application forms are expected to be available by the end of this month, and the approval committees established some time next month. Forms are expected to be available from agricultural recovery facilitators, rural coordinators, and one-stop shops. In the meantime, farmers should keep records and particularly any receipted invoices.

The Agriculture Minister and Finance Minister have been authorized to develop operational details for the relief measures approved under the agricultural recovery programme.

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