Flood-hit farms to get govt assistance

The government has announced a support package for flood-hit farmers in Otago.

Heavy rain caused severe flooding throughout the region just over 10 days ago.

The Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, today declared those floods a medium scale adverse event for Dunedin City, Clutha District, Waitaki District and the Central Otago District.

He said that recognised the damage caused, and triggered government support.

“It will mean that rural assistance payments are available for farmers and there will be some taxation flexibility as well,” he said.

The government will also give the Otago Rural Support Trust funding to help farmers.

Matt Luke has welcomed the announcement.

Half of his dairy farm near Dunedin Airport was flooded, and at least a third of it is still underwater.

“We are on a flood plain, we do get floods, but this is one out of the bag, there’s a lot of people affected, in fact most farmers on the Tairei [Plains] are affected this year,” he said.

“Usually the water will disappear within three or four days, but that’s not been the case this year. We’ve got a huge volume of water to get rid of, but it’s just taking such a long time.”

Mr Luke said it hit just as calving was getting underway.

“It’s amazing how much this is going to affect us, especially the timing of it, coming into calving. Animal health is a major issue with the state of the ground… So when there’s so much water around it’s harder to feed stock, to look after them as we need to when we’re calving.”