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$5m earthquake support for primary sector

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 18/11/2016

A $5 million support package for the primary sector has been announced by the government.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the earthquake has had a major impact on farmers, fishers, growers and the wine industry.

"The damage is widespread and severe," he said.

"Many farms remain isolated due to road closures and some dairy farmers are having to spread milk back on pasture."

Mr Guy says the package is just a first step.

He's promising to work closely with local communities to help them get back on their feet.

"This is a real blow to North Canterbury, given this is an area that's been suffering through drought for nearly three years," he said.

Mr Guy says some coastal areas might need to be closed to fishing in the short term.

"The seabed was lifted several metres out of the water along 100km of coastline, dramatically altering paua and crayfish habitats."

The $5m covers:

* $4 million for Mayoral Disaster Rural Relief funds (Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough) to help with non-insurable assets such as tracks, on-farm bridges and water infrastructure

* $500,000 to support Rural Recovery Co-ordinators in the Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough Districts

* $500,000 extra funding for Rural Support Trusts

* $200,000 per month to mobilise and support skilled primary industry students and workers for farm recovery work

* Rural Assistance Payments from Work and Income NZ - emergency payments for farmers in real hardship.

Federated Farmers has welcomed the announcement, saying the funding will go a long way towards getting farming families back up and running.

"The mayoral fund is designed to help with restoring uninsured on-farm infrastructure like tracks, bridges and water," said federation president William Rolleston.

"These are the aspects of a farm business that it's impossible to work without."

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