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New Zealand farming communities battered by Cyclone Gabrielle

Cyclone Gabrielle has caused “significant disruption to farmers, growers, and rural communities” in New Zealand, political leaders acknowledged on Tuesday, February 14, as they pledged to support “clean-up, assessment, and recovery efforts”.

The New Zealand government declared a national state of emergency yesterday to assist in the response to Cyclone Gabrielle. It is only the third time in the country’s history that a national state of emergency has been declared.

According to the country’s national weather authority, MetService-Te Ratonga Tirorangi, Cyclone Gabrielle now lies east of the North Island, and will continue to move away to the southeast – but severe weather warnings remain in place.

The ministry for primary industries, which has responsibility for agriculture, said it is working closely with sector groups to provide assistance and assess what further support will be required.

Cyclone Gabrielle

The New Zealand government has been urged to provide increased support to farmers facing significant animal welfare and financial problems.

Mark Cameron, primary Industries spokesperson for the ACT political party, who is also a farm owner, called for “increased support to farmers”.

“This is a significant event and the impacts will be far-reaching,” he said.

“Paddocks with stock in them will be flooded, regular milkings and other stockwork will be unable to be completed, and crops will be washed out. I myself will be going home to hand-milk 300 cows for possibly up to two weeks until power is restored.

“Its impossible to overstate the cost of this, both mentally and financially. Farmer confidence in New Zealand is already at a historic low, the last thing anyone needed is a natural disaster.”

A new report from Federated Farmers, one of New Zealand’s independent rural advocacy organisations, suggests farmer confidence in general economic conditions has hit a record low.

Federated Farmers president and economic spokesman Andrew Hoggard said farmers fear economic conditions will continue to deteriorate over the next 12 months.

He said not only had farmers ongoing concerns about inflation and rising farm input costs but proposed new legislation in the pipeline from the government was likely to deliver “more red tape” for farmers.


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