24 Sep 2010

Storm help promised for southern farmers

12:00 pm on 24 September 2010

Agriculture Minister David Carter says the Government will ensure farmers in South Otago and Southland affected by the worst storm in 40 years, receive all the assistance possible.

Mr Carter spent Thursday visiting farmers who have had huge stock losses and lower milk production, since heavy snow, rain and sub zero wind conditions began last weekend.

Southland Federated Farmers says lamb losses could be from 20% - 50%.

A medium scale adverse weather event has been declared.

Mr Carter says the Government will provide financial help through the Ministry of Social Development, particularly to rural support trusts.

He says it will be several weeks before the financial effects of the storm on rural communities can be estimated, but he agrees with Federated Farmers that it will be greater than the effects of the earthquake on farmers in Canterbury.

Wide implications - mayor

Southland District Mayor Frana Cardno says there will be huge economic effects for the whole country.

She told Morning Report that farmers don't know the full extent of the damage and are fearful of what they will find.

Ms Cardno said people can't remember worse weather in 50 years or more.

IRD told to be flexible

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne has confirmed Inland Revenue will offer help to farmers affected by the storms.

He says he has told the IRD to show discretion when it comes to dealing with farmers who need to get back on their feet.

Mr Dunne says Inland Revenue will show some flexibility with people who need to file late tax returns or delay payments.