Road repairs and slash damage among farmers’ main concerns

// Industry

The Government must urgently commit to road repairs in isolated Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti farming communities, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) chief executive Sam McIvor.

flooded road

“Cyclone-ravaged roads, particularly to remote properties, and the level of devastation caused by forestry slash are farmers’ main concerns. The scale of damage cannot be understated,” he says.

McIvor visited Hawke’s Bay farmers in Ōtāne, Rissington, and Glengarry, before travelling to Tolaga Bay, and Ruatōria, and video calling other Tairāwhiti farmers in Pehiri, Wharekōpae, Hangaroa and Rere 

“Many of the farmers I have spoken to are completely cut off and there is a small window of four to six weeks to move stock in and out of their properties.  For some isolated farmers that window is shorter,” he says.

“There is a significant number of lambs that need to be moved off properties for processing or as store, and beef weaner sales aren’t far away.

“It’s critical that the Government prioritises roading infrastructure to these remote areas and provides clear communication on when this will happen.

"The repairs must also be robust enough for stock trucks and machinery to restore farm tracks.”

McIvor says he was shocked by the damage caused by forestry slash throughout the East Coast and insisted the Ministerial Inquiry must prevent this from ever happening again.

“People have lost their homes because of slash-induced flooding. Other people I have spoken to have had valuable farming land on the flats destroyed by forestry slash and silt,” he says.  

“One farmer calculated it would cost $3,000 per hectare to restore valuable flats and infrastructure back to production.”

McIvor says farmers are working hard to restore farm infrastructure, tracks, fences and water systems, but the impact of forestry slash will be felt for a long time.

“It has destroyed countless kilometres of fencing, a significant number of bridges, valuable crops, blocked access to farms, and damaged farm infrastructure that will take farmers years to rebuild.

“Farmers face significant costs in reinstating land and infrastructure, as well as lost income and loss of land value.

“Farmers are also worried that this could happen again with the Government’s Emissions Trading Scheme and foreign investment settings allowing for large areas of food producing land to be converted into carbon price induced forestry. The Ministerial Inquiry must be thorough.”

McIvor says it is critical that farming communities have their say after experiencing the devastating impacts of poor policy.

The B+LNZ Havelock North office has been repurposed as a response hub for the Hawke’s Bay Rural Advisory Group (RAG), which includes B+LNZ, the Ministry for Primary Industries, Rural Support Trust, Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, Fonterra, and rural communities.

McIvor says B+LNZ staff are playing an integral role by using their local relationships and knowledge to connect farmers with the right support. 

“They are working on the ground and as part of crews flying to reach farmers to deliver resources like fuel, food and farming essentials,” he says.

“It’s been invaluable meeting face-to-face with those affected by the cyclone. For some farmers the recovery process is just starting, and we’ll be there to support them all the way.

“We encourage farmers to keep reaching out and B+LNZ will keep advocating on their behalf.”

What you can do to help

Offers to volunteer should be registered here.

There are various funds operating for financial donations including through the Rural Support Trust’s Givealittle page. 

Contact details for B+LNZ regional staff 

Details are available on the B+LNZ website although media are asked to use the details below. 


For more information, please contact James Ford on 027 235 9806 or