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Flood assistance extended

Flood assistance extended

Assistance to flood-affected farmers will be extended, Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said Cabinet had formally approved the extension of the agricultural recovery programme as sought by himself, Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey, and Civil Defence Minister George Hawkins.

Farmers in the lower North Island were badly affected by widespread flooding in February, and suffered further damage in storms in August.

Mr Sutton said in many places, the damage caused by the August storms had been exacerbated by the February storms: the effects were either worse than they would have been because of the earlier flooding, or repairs made had been undone by the later storm.

The August damage was more localised, causing damage in pockets, but the Wairarapa area was particularly hard-hit, he said.

"While other areas have had some warm, sunny weather to turn things around, the Wairarapa has been cold and wet, preventing farms from recovering. This has caused serious problems for farmers."

Mr Sutton said he would visit Wairarapa farmers next week, to see their situation for himself. Over much of New Zealand, feed was unusually tight, and farmers needed to manage their resources.

The criteria for the extension of the agricultural recovery programme were the same as the original programme's criteria, Mr Sutton said.

People who earn 51 per cent or more of their income from farming, forestry, 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.

Repair work for the February storm damage that was damaged again in the August storms is eligible, without incurring an additional threshold.

Mr Sutton said enhanced Taskforce Green assistance was extended to the end of December, and the maximum hourly rate increased up to $12 where necessary to engage skilled experienced workers.

The Social Development Ministry will provide Rural Sector Assistance till the end of December. Ministers will review its provision in November.

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