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Extra support for rural families

Hon Damien O’Connor
Minister of Agriculture
Minister for Rural Communities

12 October 2019

MEDIA STATEMENT

Extra support for rural families

Extra funding will allow Rural Support Trusts to help farming families, says Minister for Rural Communities and Agriculture Damien O’Connor.

“I know that rural families are worried about some of the challenges facing them, including the ongoing uncertainty created by the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.

“Those concerns sit alongside ongoing worries about bank debt and how best to meet the challenges of improving our waterways and meet New Zealand’s climate change commitments.

“To that end, I’ve spoken to the Rural Support Trusts and, alongside our Mycoplasma bovis Programme partners, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and DairyNZ, we’ve set aside an extra $250,000 to help with their work talking to farmers on the ground.

“The trust will develop a plan for using the money, in addition to the other farmer support mechanisms provided by the M.bovis programme, and the DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand Compensation Assistance Teams (DBCAT).

“The Rural Support Trusts do a fantastic job and are well placed to deliver additional help. They’re experienced and practical people who can coach farmers through difficult times.’’

Mr O’Connor says the new funding is on top of previous increases by the Government.

“The Government has already boosted funding for the Rural Support Trusts from $386,500 a year to $626,000 for their daily work. Outside of that, the trust is budgeted to receive more than $1m in the next year for M.bovis related work.

“I met this week with all the major banks and Rural Support Trusts. I asked that financial institutions make sure they are working alongside Rural Support Trusts and others to help farmers where required.

“I’m extremely proud of the ongoing high performance of our primary sector. We’re getting record prices for our food and fibre.

“In the Budget we set aside $229 million to spend on things like boosting advisory and extension services.

“A Farm Debt Mediation scheme will be a safety net for farmers and improvements to NAIT will help prevent some of the tracing issues we’ve experienced with M.bovis. Soon we will release an industry-backed plan to ensure the sector gets the skilled workers it needs.

“The Budget had $1.9 billion for mental health to improve frontline services, rural communities included.”

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