Farmers' $3500 flood clean-up grants 'disappointing'

By Sally Murphy for RNZ

Canterbury farmers who are still cleaning up after the floods earlier this month are being offered $3500.

Heavy rain caused rivers in the region to flood, ripping out fences, washing away feed and depositing huge amounts of shingle on some farms.

The government declared an adverse event and allocated $500,000 to help those affected; $100,000 to three Rural Support Trusts in the area, $350,000 making up the Canterbury Flood Response Fund and $50,000 set aside for other recovery support.


Staff from the Ministry for Primary Industries, councils and industry organisations have been on the ground assessing flood damage on farms.

A spokesperson said based on that information the ministry started offering grants to the worst-affected farmers on Tuesday last week.

All are being offered the same amount of $3500 and have a week to accept it once offered to them.

"Assessments are still being carried out on the ground to determine where support might be needed," a ministry spokesperson said.

The ministry said farmers with flood-damaged property who had not been assessed could fill out a self-assessment form on MPI's website or call 0800 327 646.

Mid-Canterbury Federated Farmers president David Clark said people were grateful for the fund but $3500 only covered a couple of hours worth of heavy machine hire.

"Some farms with damage from shingle and debris are facing bills of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"What we need to know is if this is the extent of the help they're going to receive if it is just the $3500 then that will be disappointing."

Clark said shingle build-up in the Ashburton River was a disaster waiting to happen and farmers along the banks have now suffered the worst of it.

"The river has been constrained but the shingle is still coming down from the alps and into the river system.

"What's happened is, the shingle has blown out in some locations onto some farms in the process of keeping everyone else dry.

"So we need to think what our whole of community response is.

"It's my view that the cost shouldn't be falling on individual farms when they've effectively taken a hit for the team."

A conversation needed to be had between local and central government about how this was going to be handled he said.