'Farmy Armies' rally for massive clean up on flood-hit Southland farms

Fellow farmers are rallying to help with the clean up after severe flooding caused widespread damage to farms across Southland and South Otago.

DairyNZ estimated that more than 100 dairy farms have been severely impacted by the the flooding leaving many farmers in a dire situation.

Southland Federated Farmers said volunteer Farmy Armies would be heading out Riversdale and Edendale this weekend to help those affected.

"Bring gloves, work boots/gumboots, packed lunch, and, if you are skilled at using them, chainsaw and/or basic fencing tools and related PPE. No tractors or other heavy machinery," it said on Facebook.

"Bring a smile and can-do attitude.... you're going to bring huge relief to these farmers." 

It encouraged anyone wanting to volunteer to register with them, along with farmers needing help with debris clean up.

"This is just the start. THANK YOU EVERYONE!!"

Dairy farms in the Southland-South Otago Oreti, Aparima and Clutha river catchments were the worst impacted by the floods.

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker estimated the loss for farmers would run into the tens of millions of dollars.

"I know one farmer - he's lost close to 300 hectares of crop. That is a huge amount," said Walker.

One affected farmer Chris Dillon believed most of his crops have been destroyed by floodwaters and  fencing on his property has also been wiped out by falling trees. 

DairyNZ said around 100 farms were severely affected.
DairyNZ said around 100 farms were severely affected. Photo credit: Facebook/High Country Helicopters

Dillon's family has been farming next to the Mataura River for 100 years, and he said there's never been flooding on the land like it.

He said it would be a massive clean-up job.

"The concern was how big it was going to get," said Dillon.

Meanwhile farmers affected by the flooding are being reminded that support is available from various sources, including MPI, Emergency Management Southland, the Rural Support Trust, and industry organisations.  

"Our priority is for farming families to remain safe, which starts with boiling drinking water for at least one minute if there has been any surface flooding near a farm water supply," said Emergency Southland controller Bruce Halligan. 

Key numbers for affected Southland farmers:  

Emergency Management Southland 03 211-5446).  

Rural Support Trust on 0800 787 254.

MPI are ready to help on 0800 00 83