11 Apr 2017

Govt announces help for flood-hit farmers

12:52 pm on 11 April 2017

The government has announced help for flood-hit Bay of Plenty farmers, but says further support for businesses is some way away.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy this morning declared the flood a medium-scale adverse event.

The declaration means farmers can get help from task force green teams and the Bay of Plenty Rural Support Trust, as well as receiving tax assistance.

There had only needed to be a small amount of milk dumping, Farm Source Fonterra said.

Farms around Edgecumbe were inundated by the floodwaters when a stop bank broke on Thursday. Photo: RNZ / Leon Menzies

The town of Edgecumbe was hit by a wall of water when a stopbank on the Rangitāiki River burst on Thursday, swamping the town and forcing its 1600 residents to flee. Farms were flooded and communities in the wider region were cut off.

Mr Guy, visiting the region this morning, said damage to the rural community was worse than he thought.

The task force green teams will be "critical to help farmers and individual households with the clean-up", he said. Rural families' may also get rural assistance payments to help with essential living costs.

"Extra financial assistance is available in the form of civil defence payments and over 500 applications have been received so far. Most requests are for personal items like clothing, bedding and food.

"While the region is still in response mode, it is clear that all primary sectors in the area have been impacted to some extent, with major damage to farm land and infrastructure due to flooding, debris and slips," Mr Guy said.

Many, including Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne, have called for a business support package similar to the one after the Kaikōura earthquake.

However, Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said officials were still finding out how many businesses were affected by the flood, and no immediate announcement was likely.