Cyclone Gabrielle is having a devastating impact on farmers, their families and some communities that are already under significant stress and pressure, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) chief executive Sam McIvor.
“Our hearts and thoughts go out to everyone affected by Cyclone Gabrielle and B+LNZ is ready to provide whatever help we can to farmers,” he says.
“We’re working with our partner organisations DairyNZ and Federated Farmers, along with the Rural Support Trust and the Ministry for Primary Industries, as part of the Civil Defence-led response to Cyclone Gabrielle.
“Along with our partners, we’re emphasising to the Government that communications, electricity, people welfare and safety are urgent priorities.
“Access and damage to infrastructure is already restricting farmers and communities in assessing the cyclone’s full impact. This must also be a priority.”
Significant practical and financial support will be required in the coming days, weeks, and months for rural communities and while the Government’s announcement of a $4 million mobilisation fund is welcomed, farmers and communities must be able to access it easily, McIvor says.
“We’ll be working with other agencies to ensure there is a well-coordinated process for farmers to receive this support and to ensure that farmers’ needs are well understood and communicated to government agencies.
“We know many farmers from around New Zealand are already reaching out to help, we will be drawing that expertise and experience. We encourage people to visit the Federated Farmers website if they want to donate money or volunteer.
“First and foremost, it’s important for farmers to look after their own wellbeing, and we encourage reaching out to each other and using the Rural Support Trust.”
Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says Cyclone Gabrielle has impacted some meat processing plants in the North Island, causing some to close temporarily.
“Many staff have been unable to travel to and from plants, and the significant damage to the road network has meant trucks have been unable to pick up livestock,” she says.
“There is no significant pressure on processing capacity at present, however we will be closely monitoring the situation, particularly when the weather improves, and farmers have an opportunity to assess the damage to their farms.
“Some farmers in the worst-hit regions will inevitably need to de-stock their farms and send livestock in for processing.
“Our thoughts are with the many farmers and rural communities that continue to be affected by the wet weather and flooding.”
For more information, please contact B+LNZ’s James Ford on 027 235 9806 or email firstname.lastname@example.org