9 Feb 2022

Funding of $400,000 to support agencies helping farmers, growers prepare for Omicron

11:48 am on 9 February 2022

Rural Support Trusts are welcoming a funding boost to help them assist farmers and growers impacted by the Omicron outbreak.

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Rural Support Trusts national chair Neil Bateup says the money will be used to pay teams for their efforts. Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

Yesterday, the government announced it had allocated $400,000 to support primary producers with contingency planning and response if farmers or growers contract Covid-19.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said the funding would bolster the resources of Rural Support Trusts and other organisations, including those supporting Māori agribusinesses, to help them respond to cases.

"This funding will help ensure there's someone that farmers and growers can speak to and provide guidance should they or their staff be dealing with Omicron. The Rural Support Trusts are well woven into rural communities to provide wrap around support services."

O'Connor said it was vital all food and fibre producers had a plan, in case other people had to step in and help run the farm, or feed livestock, at short notice.

"There are several free checklists available which have been developed by industry and MPI. I encourage people to make use of them."

Trust national chair Neil Bateup said about 300 people work mostly voluntarily for the 14 trusts across the country. The money would be used to pay teams for their efforts, he said.

"Paying our people to provide that support to farmers, we won't be physically doing the milking, but we'll spending time helping them plan how they'll manage and helping them access the resources that they may need."

Bateup said considering it was early on in the Omicron outbreak, it was hard to say if all the extra funding would be needed, or if it would not go far enough.

"But it's great to know there is support there for us," he said.

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