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Jim Sutton's visit to Wairarapa

29 September 2004

Jim Sutton's visit to Wairarapa

Visit to Wairarapa farmers

The management of farms in the Wairarapa hit by floods in February and August was extremely impressive, Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton visited four farms in the Wairarapa on Monday September 27: two dairy farms, one cropping farm, and a hill country farm.

He said it was clear that the region had been hard hit, especially by the storms in August.

"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, making feed supply tight."

Mr Sutton said he was impressed with the high standard of farm management he had seen, which was enabling farmers to get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

He praised the local farming community in the Wairarapa, saying it was clear that people had really rallied round to support each other during this terrible season.

Mr Sutton said there had been significant slipping on much hill country land, and this was of concern.

"We have to question how sustainable it is to farm some of this land. It is going to take many decades before much of that slipped land is fully restored. I am making it a personal priority over the next few years to develop policies which give landholders practical, affordable options to move to more sustainable land use on New Zealand's most vulnerable hill country."

The Government has extended the agricultural recovery programme to include the damage caused by August storms.

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.

The Enhanced Taskforce Green scheme has also been extended, as has the Rural Sector Assistance programme.

ENDS

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