Cyclone Gabrielle has wreaked havoc across large swathes of the country causing slips, damage to roads, bridges, and farm infrastructure, while leaving many communities isolated.
Will Halliday, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Senior Advisor for Animal Welfare and Biosecurity, urges farmers and those working in rural communities to prioritise the safety of themselves, their families and their staff as they begin the clean-up.
“Safety needs to be the number one priority. Slopes, buildings and bridges may be unstable, and waterways can be deceptively swift-flowing and contaminated,” he says.
“It is not worth taking any risks, so stop and think carefully before undertaking any repair work and ensure all safety precautions have been taken.”
The Rural Support Trust (0800 787 254) is coordinating the recovery and clean-up support and should be the first port of call for farmers wanting to register for assistance.
Feed issues experienced by some farmers in flood-affected areas will likely be exacerbated and the Ministry for Primary Industries is restarting the national Feed Working Group, which is a partnership with sector groups and specialist providers to monitor feed availability.
B+LNZ is working with its 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,” says B+LNZ’s CEO Sam McIvor.
“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.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says the breadth of this storm’s impact is unprecedented, with milk collection disrupted, orchards inundated and livestock losses across much of the North Island.
Minister O’Connor says more support will be made available once a full and thorough assessment of the damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle across the North Island is complete.
“B+LNZ will be following up on this to ensure that farmers’ needs are well understood,” says McIvor.
He notes that farmers from around New Zealand have reached out to help those affected and encourages farmers who want to donate money or volunteer to visit the Federated Farmers website.
Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association says the cyclone has impacted some meat processing plants in the North Island with some temporarily closing.
She says 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.
“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.”
Contacts and information
- B+LNZ: beeflambnz.com/news-views/flood-support
- Rural Support Trust on 0800 787 254 or visit www.rural-support.org.nz
- Information about dealing with floods: www.mpi.govt.nz/dealing-with-floods
- For animal welfare assistance, phone MPI on 04 894 0132 to log any concerns.
- DairyNZ: www.dairynz.co.nz/business/adverse-events/flood/
- Farmstrong: www.farmstrong.co.nz
To donate money or volunteer: www.fedfarm.org.nz