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Concern over Weather Impact on Agriculture

7th July 2006

Serious Concern over Weather Impact on Agriculture in the Canterbury Region

The MAF report from officials on the ground paints a grim picture of the situation in the snow hit areas in Canterbury. The report, delivered to the Minister of Agriculture, Jim Anderton last night, details the high personal toll on farmers and their families, the crippling effect of the limited thaw and the substantial loss of winter feed for stock.

"These are extremely serious issues for the farming communities of Canterbury. There has been nothing like this snow event since 1945. The ground underneath the snow is frozen and further snow would stretch systems and resilience to breaking point,” Jim Anderton said from the West Coast today.

“The practical solutions are on two levels. Number one is the immediate needs of the farmers and their families and number two is the longer-term Feed Stock Plan.

The four staffed Rural Support Offices are in Ashburton, Fairlie, Timaru and Waimate and can be contacted by phoning 0800 233 376. Farmers and the industry (farm advisors, Dexcel, Meat & Wool NZ, stock and station agencies) are assessing the feed supply and the needs for the rest of winter and spring. My MAF officials on the ground are also working with contracted farm advisors and Federated Farmers, as well as with experienced volunteers. Farm vets are important in times like these and the Ministry of Social Development is backing up with Family Support packages.

“The second part of the solution lies in what the Government can do for the longer term needs of the farming community to get through this critical period. I will be taking a full report of options to the Cabinet on Monday. The objective will be to make sure that farmers and their stock can see through this difficult period, in the best shape possible.

“The Rural Support Offices are there to help and farmers will need to let the facilitators know how much feed they have and how much they need. We will be monitoring the feed stocks from now (July) into spring. I have asked for a full report on all options with cost estimates for this Monday. There is no doubt the cost will be significant,” Jim Anderton said.

ENDS

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