Flood-hit Southland farmers urged to ask for help

There's concern that some farmers affected by flooding in Southland could be reluctant to ask for help, as the extent of damage emerges. 

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

Emergency Management Southland controller Bruce Halligan said despite a huge effort to talk to affected farmers, there were concerns that some who need help are not getting in touch.

"We are concerned that some farmers who may have already been contacted, and said they were coping, will need help as they assess the damage to their properties and begin to realise the amount of work and resource required," said Halligan.

"Rural Support Trust and other organisations are well resourced to provide help - all they need to do is call 0800 787-254 and they can swing into action." 

He said authorities had been working hard to make sure they reached the entire area affected by flooding, including areas further north and west such as Garston, Athol, lower Oreti, and Fiordland so that no-one is left out.  

Rural Support Trust had also been in contact with nearly 900 farmers over the past few days and had identified dozens of farmers that need significant help in clearing flood debris, fences, and other essential repair work.  

"The Farmy Army, organised by Federated Farmers, was active over the weekend with dozens of volunteers doing great clean-up work at farms around Edendale, Riversdale and the lower Mataura area."  

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 had been destroyed by floodwaters and fencing on his property has also been wiped out by falling trees. 

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.

Key numbers for affected Southland farmers:  

Emergency Management Southland : 03 211-5446

Rural Support Trust: 0800 787 254.

MPI: 0800 00 83 33