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Government Looking At Further Help For Farmers

Government Looking At Further Help For Farmers

The Minister of Agriculture, Jim Anderton said today that MAF will be reporting to him this Thursday 6th July on any other practical measures that the Government can take to help snow affected farmers.

"I will be taking MAF's report to Cabinet next Monday for consideration. Any further measures will be additional to the contribution that the Government has already made of $600,000 for response and recovery measures, through the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, and the $160,000, provided to date, through MAF to provide for the four Rural Support Offices – a total of $3/4M to date.

The four rural support offices are now in operation in Ashburton, Fairlie, Timaru and Waimate. Rural support facilitators have been appointed to each office and can be contacted by phoning 0800 233 376 and selecting the option for the appropriate office.

The details for these offices are: Barry Vessey, Ashburton office in the Federated Farmers building at 163 West St, Terry O'Connell, Fairlie office in the MacKenzie District Offices on Main St, Peter Clark, Timaru office in the Federated Farmers building at 12 Butler St; and Maurice Hellewell, Waimate office in the Albion Building, 120 Queen St, Waimate

"The establishment of the rural support offices and the rural support facilitators have been organised by MAF, working with the local districts councils and Federated Farmers. The 0800 233 376 helpline is open to everyone in the snow affected area.

"The rural support offices are 'response and recovery one-stop-shops' and they have three main functions. They will co-ordinate rural support volunteer visits to rural homes to offer practical assistance and support as well as being an opportunity to give advice on financial planning and feed budgeting. The rural support offices are also there to give information on central government services, such as, access to financial assistance to cover essential living costs under the Special Needs Grants programme, welfare counselling and IRD's flexible tax provisions," Jim Anderton said.

MAF's report on Thursday to the Minister of Agriculture will draw on the initial assessment of the feed requirement in the affected area to carry the animals through the winter. Discussions are ongoing throughout tomorrow with farmers, agribusiness and rural professionals and will include developing contingency plans for any further snow or adverse events during the rest of the winter.

"In the meantime farmers are continuing to make decisions about buying and selling feed and livestock. These decisions are part of good farm management where farmers respond to weather and market conditions.

"I am urging farmers and their families to get in touch if they need assistance, advice or want to volunteer to help others," Jim Anderton said.

ENDS

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