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Flood aid package confirmed


Flood aid package confirmed

The Government has confirmed details of the aid package for flood-affected farmers and crop growers, Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton said today.

People who earn 51 per cent or more of their income from farming and cropgrowing within the boundaries of the South Taranaki, Wanganui, Ruapehu, Rangitikei, Manawatu, Horowhenua, Kapiti, Central Hawkes Bay, Tararua, Masterton, Carterton, and South Wairarapa local authorities are eligible for assistance through the Government’s agricultural recovery programme.

Mr Sutton said the key aim of the programme was to enable farmers and crop growers to re-establish their businesses as quickly as possible.

* It isn’t possible to make the effects of this go away for people. The impact of February’s storm is such that people will continue to see the effects on their land, particularly in the hill country and in their balance sheets, for many years to come.

* But this package will help people get on with their lives and their businesses.¡¨

The assistance through the Agricultural Recovery Programme will be in two key areas: Essential infrastructure, which is eligible for 75 per cent government assistance; and Crop re-establishment, which is eligible for 90 per cent government assistance.

Mr Sutton said assistance to affected forestry would be through facilitating the use of skilled labour and equipment to enable wind throw harvesting to be undertaken.

Farmers will have to meet a threshold of $10,000, being the first $10,000 worth of expenditure on qualifying items. This will be assessed on the first payment request ¡V not on each payment request that is made.

There is no cap to government funding for eligible items.

MAF have contracted the following Agricultural and Forestry Recovery Facilitators in the storm-affected areas to assist in the implementation of the Agricultural Recovery Programme. They are available to assist in completing an application form, advise on the contents and criteria of the Programme and other forms of assistance that may be available.

Central Hawkes Bay Neil Kittow 06 844 2665 Tararua Chris Southgate 06 374 9862 Wairarapa Bruce Watkins 06 378 6895 Manawatu Bruce Withell 06 358 3202 Feilding Bruce Beard 06 323 2281 Ruapehu Malcolm Swanney 06 385 4133 Wanganui Brian Doughty 06 342 1846 South Taranaki Alistair Parsons 06 346 6207 Dairy Steve Barr 0274 499 648 Forestry Kelly Coghlan 0274 488 067

Application forms for the Government assistance package will be available from the agricultural recovery facilitators. It is expected that application forms will be available after Easter.

Operational Detail for Agricultural Recovery Programme: April 7, 2004

Operational Detail for Agricultural Recovery Programme: April 7, 2004 RESPONSE TO LOWER NORTH ISLAND STORM: 'ON-FARM’ RELIEF MEASURES: OPERATIONAL DETAIL FOR AGRICULTURAL RECOVERY PROGRAMME

The Government has agreed to the following measures to assist farmers, growers and foresters recover from the Lower North Island Storm Event on 15-18 February 2004. The assistance is known as the Agricultural Recovery Programme, which is being administered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF).

This programme is separate from assistance from other Government Agencies, such as Civil Defence and Emergency Management, Work and Income, and voluntary agencies.

Farmers, growers and foresters who meet the criteria outlined below are invited to request an information and application pack from MAF. Requests can be made by emailing floods@maf.govt.nz, faxing a request to 04 474 4206, or through the Agricultural Recovery Facilitators, who are listed in Section 8 of this paper.

Details of the programme outlined below are: ¡P General criteria ¡P Essential ¡¥on-farm’ infrastructure ¡P Crop re-establishment ¡P Forestry assistance ¡P Other assistance measures ¡P Process for the Agricultural Recovery Programme ¡P Contacts for Agricultural and Forestry Recovery Facilitators.

Summary

The assistance through the Agricultural Recovery Programme will be in two key areas: ¡P Essential infrastructure ¡P Crop re-establishment

¡¥On-farm’ infrastructural items which will be eligible for 75% Government assistance will be: ¡P Boundary fencing; ¡P Essential access (tracks, races, farm bridges, culverts); ¡P Re-establishing silt and water damaged pasture; ¡P Re-establishing essential uninsurable water supplies (dams, reticulation, troughs); ¡P Re-establishing essential drainage; ¡P Re-establishing essential uninsurable stockyards ¡P Repairing effluent ponds ¡P Re-establishing ¡¥on-farm’ flood protection

Crop re-establishment which will be eligible for 90% Government assistance are vegetable, process, orchard and arable crops, including forage cash crops, which were damaged by water or silt.

Forestry assistance will be through facilitating the use of skilled labour and equipment to enable wind throw harvesting to be undertaken.

1. General criteria

NOTE: The terms ¡¥farm’ and ¡¥farmer’ used throughout apply to all agricultural, horticultural and forestry operations.

The farm property should be located within the following District Council boundaries: South Taranaki Central Hawkes Bay Wanganui Tararua Ruapehu Masterton Rangitikei Carterton Manawatu South Wairarapa Horowhenua Kapiti

1.2 Farmers, growers and foresters receiving relief will have been significantly affected by the lower North Island storm between 15 and 18 February 2004.

1.3 To be eligible farmers must earn 51% of their gross income from farming, cropping, vegetable growing, forestry activities or any combination thereof.

1.4 Payments will only be made for non-insurable qualifying items.

1.5 Farmers will meet a threshold of $10,000, being the first $10,000 worth of expenditure on qualifying items. This will be assessed on the first payment request ¡V not on each payment request that is made.

1.6 There is no cap to government funding for eligible items.

1.7 Applications lodged for a property or entity will transfer to a verified successor in title if the property changes ownership before all restoration has been undertaken. Such change in ownership and responsibility would include sharemilkers.

1.8 Payments will be made direct to the person or party who has incurred the cost. The criteria do not differentiate between owner operators and farmer/sharemilker arrangements in that Government assistance will be available to eligible business entities which meet the criteria. Government will not get involved in contractual arrangements between farm owners and sharemilkers.

1.9 For essential ¡¥on-farm’ infrastructure damage, as described below, the payment rate will be 75%.

1.10 For crop re-establishment, as described below, the payment rate will be 90%.

2. Essential On-farm Infrastructure

2.1 Boundary Fencing

Boundary fencing is eligible for 75% support as follows: Boundary fences which are on the perimeter of the property and serve as the boundary between neighbours, roads, railway lines and rivers.

Where a property has a number of titles that are contiguous and comprise the same operational entity the boundary is regarded as the perimeter of the operational entity.

Where the boundary is with a neighbour the cost of the fence is shared on a 50/50 basis by the neighbours, with each party eligible to apply for assistance to the Agricultural Recovery Programme. Where DOC holds land under the Conservation Act, the Wildlife Act or the Reserves Act, the boundary fencing obligations are shared 50/50 between DOC with neighbours.

Where the boundary is adjacent to roads, railway lines and rivers and those parts of the DOC estate that are excluded from the requirements of The Fencing Act 1978 the payment will be based on 75% of the total cost.

2.2 Essential Access (Tracks, Races, Farm Bridges and Culverts)

Essential access is as follows: Where the access is essential for: ¡P The farmer to bring stock from all areas of the farm to stockyards or cowsheds; ¡P The grower to transport machinery essential for crop establishment and harvesting; ¡P For pruning and harvesting of forestry crops; and ¡P To gain access for restoration of infrastructure such as water systems and fencing and supplying supplementary feed.

The access must have existed pre-event.

The cost of any Resource Consents required are included as part of the replacement cost.

Essential access does not require that the tracks be re-established, or bridges and culverts rebuilt in the same location if the previous location has been adversely impacted by slip damage or washouts.

Bridges

Bridges are those on-farm bridges past the homestead. (Bridges up to the homestead are an insurable item.)

Where improved access can be better provided by an alternative (rather than rebuilding the bridge) there will be discretion for Government to fund new work to the value of up to 75% of the cost which would have been incurred to replace the bridge to the previous standard.

Where the cost of replacing a bridge is required at a higher design standard due to Regional Council requirements the Government contribution will be capped at 75% of the cost to replace the bridge to the previous standard.

Note: Replacement of bridge or access to a higher standard than the pre-flood state is a business decision. Eligible costs will be only those related to replacing to the pre-flood state.

2.3 Re-establishing Silt and Water Damaged Pasture

Where pasture has been damaged by silt and/or water 75% of the following costs will be met: ¡P The regrassing costs of cultivation, seed and fertiliser; ¡P Temporary pasture re-establishment, to be followed by permanent pasture when the soil is capable of being sown in permanent pasture, where it is best management practice to do so, but no later than Autumn 2005.

Re-establishment cultivation costs are based either: ¡P On invoices for contractors used; or ¡P Costs associated with a farmer using own machinery. Such eligible operating costs would include labour (at $15 hour) and fuel, but not include fixed costs (eg depreciation).

2.4 Re-establishing Uninsurable Water Supplies

Re-establishing essential uninsurable water supplies includes: ¡P Dams: o Cleaning out of silt and debris generated by the storm event; o Rebuilding to a commensurate capacity dam where a dam has been damaged beyond repair; ¡P Reticulation lost through storm damage; ¡P Troughs lost through storm damage.

2.5 Essential Uninsurable Stock Yards

Replacing or repairing damaged stock yards to a size and standard as prior to the storm event.

2.6 Essential Drainage

Essential drainage is: ¡P That which is necessary as a prevention measure against future flood events and includes cleaning of drains and outfalls to maintain free flow; Essential drainage excludes: ¡P Tile and mole drains and other forms of general subsoil drainage; ¡P Drainage covered by Regional Council Community Drainage Schemes.

2.7 ¡¥On-farm’ flood protection works

The following flood protection works will be eligible for 75% support: ¡P Re-instatement of on-farm flood protection works on private farm land (eg stopbanks) where approved by the Regional Council for appropriately planned, designed, engineered, consented and constructed works to ensure the integrity of the flood protection system. ¡P Re-instatement of pre-flood, farmer funded bank stabilisation, where approved by the Regional Council for appropriately planned, designed, engineered, consented and constructed works to ensure the integrity of the flood protection system.

Excluded are: ¡P Bank stabilisation not approved by the Regional Council or undertaken as Regional Council works; ¡P Flood protection works that are the responsibility of the Regional Council.

2.8 Effluent systems

Effluent systems are essential infrastructure on dairy farms. The following costs will be eligible for 75% support: ¡P Restoration and cleaning of silt and debris from effluent ponds; ¡P Replacement of effluent ponds where the system is damaged beyond repair.

3. Crop Re-establishment: Arable, Orchard, Vegetable, Process and Forage Cash Crops

3.1 Criteria for Crop Re-establishment Grants

The following criteria will apply for crop re-establishment grants: ¡P Crops lost were grown for cash: vegetable, process or arable crops including maize grown for sale, either as grain or silage; ¡P Crops made unharvestable by water and/or silt damage; ¡P Re-establishment assistance will be based on the verified area and percentage of unharvestable crop loss; ¡P Where the crop is re-established in a different location the amount of re-establishment assistance will not exceed 90% of the value of the lost crop; ¡P Where the crop re-established is a different crop the amount of re-establishment assistance will not exceed 90% of the value of the lost crop; ¡P The cost of removing unharvestable crop is included as part of crop re-establishment; ¡P Year one re-establishment costs for long term crops, such as asparagus, be eligible, but not the lost production between the year of re-establishment and production; and ¡P The cost of cover crops planted prior to crop re-establishment.

3.2 Crop Re-establishment

The following items are included as crop re-establishment: ¡P Crop removal (where necessary to re-establish a subsequent crop); ¡P Land preparation/ cultivation; ¡P Seeds or transplants; ¡P Planting; ¡P Crop protection (sprays or cultivation); ¡P Fertiliser; ¡P Cover crops; and ¡P Irrigation operating costs (e.g. fuel, electricity).

Re-establishment costs are based either: ¡P On invoices for contractors used; or ¡P Costs associated with a grower using own machinery. Such eligible operating costs would include labour (at $15 hour) and fuel, but not include fixed costs (eg depreciation).

Eligible crop re-establishment grants will be calculated at 90% on the following basis: ¡P Establishment and use of standard unit rate based on gross margins; ¡P Verification documents showing expenditure on crop re-establishment; and ¡P Capped at 90% of the value of the crop lost.

3.3 Orchards

Crop re-establishment in orchards will include: ¡P Essential infrastructure (75%): o Structural damage to orchards; and o Silt and debris removal from around plants (to avoid such things as anaerobic conditions); ¡P Crop re-establishment (90%) o Vine/ tree replacement where essential for orchard best management practice; and o Crop protection and fertiliser till February 2005.

4. Forestry Sector

The forestry sector will be eligible for essential infrastructure assistance as outlined above, such as restoration of essential internal access tracks (but excluding any upgrading), and boundary fencing,

4.1 Industry specific support will be provided as follows:

¡P Support for transporting harvest equipment from outside the region to affected blocks, at 75% of the additional transport cost due to moving equipment from outside the region; and ¡P Skilled labour for ¡¥clean-up’ and harvesting activities utilising out-of-region forestry workers.

This can be provided through: ¡P Work and Income and Enhanced Task Force Green by unemployed workers outside the region registering with Work and Income; and ¡P Importation of contract gangs to provide necessary skilled labour and can include reasonable costs of transporting and accommodating out-of-region skilled labour for wind throw harvesting at 75% of standard costs.

Government support is being provided to local government to enable full and urgent restoration of local roading to a standard for transportation of heavy equipment and logs.

5. Other Government assistance measures for farmers, growers and foresters

5.1 Agricultural Recovery Facilitators

MAF have appointed nine Agricultural Recovery Facilitators and a Forestry Recovery Facilitator in the storm affected areas. These facilitators are working with local farmers, growers and foresters assisting with accessing Task Force Green assistance and coordinating responses. The Facilitators will chair local Assessment Committees considering assistance applications and will be able to assist those completing application forms for Government assistance.

5.2 Rural Coordinators

Funding is provided to local Rural Support Trusts for Rural Coordinators to help with personal and financial counselling and decision making.

5.3 Rural Sector Assistance

A Rural Sector Assistance programme is underway through Work and Income (MSD). The programme is currently approved till 31 August 2004, but will be reviewed by 31 July 2004, to establish on-going need beyond 31 August 2004.

5.4 Technology Assistance Programme

A mass media Technology Assistance Programme is underway through MAF to provide information to farmers, growers and foresters on best management responses to the flood and storm event. This excludes one-to-one consultancy advice.

5.5 Rates Relief

Government has approved $11.25 million (GST inclusive) for rates remission. Department of Internal Affairs are developing detail as to how the assistance will be distributed.

5.6 Task Force Green

Work and Income are administering Enhanced Task Force Green in the storm affected areas, in coordination with the Agricultural Recovery Facilitators and Rural Coordinators.

5.7 New Start Grants

New Start Grants, up to $65,000 (GST inclusive), will be provided for farmers forced to leave their properties as a result of the floods to ensure that farmers are left with equity up to $65,000 per family. A condition of these grants will be that all institutions with a financial interest in the properties concerned, would write-off all remaining debt following the sale of the property. New Start Grants will be available to sharemilkers as well as property owners.

Details of these New Start Grants are to be developed by MAF and Treasury.

5.8 Inland Revenue and ACC flexibility

IRD are providing information to affected farmers to develop responses on flood related taxation issues.

6. Other Government assistance measures applicable to the storm affected region

6.1 Regional Infrastructure: $68.6 million has been allocated to assist in re-establishment of regional infrastructure.

6.2 Matched expenditure for donated relief funds.

7. Process for administering the Agricultural Recovery Programme

7.1 Application forms and information will be posted by MAF on request, or distributed through the Agricultural Recovery Facilitators, Rural Coordinators, industry organisations and Councils.

7.2 A two stage application and payments process will be used: ¡P Stage One will be an Application assessing the loss and the items that it is anticipated will be eligible for payment. To assist in the management of the process and monitor the funding requirements of the programme, it is desirable (but not mandatory) that Stage One Applications be received by mid- May 2004.

¡P Stage Two will be Payment Requests, which will require receipted invoices, or equivalent. The number of payment requests will vary according to the type and timing of works to be undertaken. The latest date for receiving payment requests will be 1 May 2005, with all payments completed by 30 June 2005.

7.3 Applications will require a statutory declaration and information sharing requirements.

7.4 Assessment Process: ¡P All applications will be received by MAF and entered into a database, and checked for completeness; ¡P Applications will be distributed to the relevant Agricultural or Forestry Recovery Facilitator, as Chair of the Assessment Committee, who may request further information if required; ¡P The Assessment Committee will consider applications and forward advice of decisions to MAF for payment; ¡P An Appeals Committee and process will be established to enable a reconsideration of Committee decisions, should decisions be disputed.

8. Agricultural and Forestry Recovery Facilitators

MAF have contracted the following Agricultural and Forestry Recovery Facilitators in the storm-affected areas to assist in the implementation of the Agricultural Recovery Programme. They are available to assist in completing an application form, advise on the contents and criteria of the Programme and other forms of assistance that may be available.

Central Hawkes Bay Neil Kittow 06 844 2665 Tararua Chris Southgate 06 374 9862 Wairarapa Bruce Watkins 06 378 6895 Manawatu Bruce Withell 06 358 3202 Feilding Bruce Beard 06 323 2281 Ruapehu Malcolm Swanney 06 385 4133 Wanganui Brian Doughty 06 342 1846 South Taranaki Alistair Parsons 06 346 6207 Dairy Steve Barr 0274 499 648 Forestry Kelly Coghlan 0274 488 067

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