Cyclone Cook wreaks 'huge losses' on Bay of Plenty farmers

Cyclone Cook wreaks 'huge losses' on Bay of Plenty farmers

In the wake of Cyclone Cook, the Bay of Plenty is picking up the pieces, with farmers hit particularly hard.

Many farmers trucked stock out of the region before the storm's onslaught, but crop farmers haven't been so lucky with large swathes of their harvest destroyed.

Federated Farmers Bay of Plenty president Darryl Jensen says there are huge losses across the entire region.

He's working with the Ministry for Primary Industries to organise relief packages for those hardest-hit, and while getting electricity back to farms facing power cuts to allow milking to continue is crucial, the immediate challenge is removing excess water.

"There are approximately 30 portable pumps pumping water around the area. They've moved a lot of the water, but there's still a lot of water in low-lying spots," says Mr Jensen.

"Pumps are being shifted around for maximum benefit. We've made huge progress, but there's still quite a lot of water to be moved. We want to get the water off straight away so farmers can get back on and put remedy methods in to get their farms back up and running - getting fertiliser, grass seed on, getting their winter infrastructure set-up and so on."

The stock that has been trucked out of flood-hit areas has been relocated temporarily on land belonging to good Samaritans, but the flooding will have long-lasting effects that are unavoidable.

"We've just been relying on the generosity of other people to put their hands up to say they can take stock and graze it, but they too have to look after their own operations as winter is coming," says Mr Jensen.

"Feeding animals in this region - logistically, some very hard calls will have to be made by farmers. They may have to de-stock numbers, sell off stock or something. They've got to get through the winter, get their cows in good order and calve down well in the spring. There is an immediate impact, but also a future impact - it could be two seasons."

It's not only dairy farmers who have been hit by the floods - crop farmers aren't able to truck their stock off.

"We've had maize farmers here with their crops flattened down and won't be able to harvest it. That maize is harvested as silage for farmers to use, so there's a huge deficit problem for farmers being able to feed their stock," says Mr Jensen.

"Cyclone Cook gave a few orchards a bit of a tickle up as well. Shelterbelts have come down and we don't know what damage the kiwifruit industry has suffered, but it's taken a bit of a hiding when they're coming into harvest time."

It could be weeks before floodwaters drain from farms in the eastern Bay of Plenty.