Wellington, February 2, 2018
Access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPs) for drought-stricken farmers is being extended to the Southland Region (districts of Southland, Invercargill City and Gore) and parts of Otago (districts of Clutha, Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes).
I have announced that assistance will be available from February 5, 2018 to January 21, 2019 in the new affected areas. They are provided to help meet essential living expenses with a payment equal to Jobseeker Support for farmers affected by an adverse event.
Initially in place for in the Lower North Island and South Island’s West Coast, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Communities Damien O’Connor has now extended the medium-scale drought classification.
While some rain has visited many regions, Southland and Otago remain extremely dry, with the normally hottest and driest two months to come.
Not only the lack of rainfall, but the sweltering heat, is continuing to take a toll on farmers’ crops and their stock.
The impact of drought on rural communities can be devastating, not only on businesses, but on people’s emotional resilience.
Many farmers in these regions have not experienced drought of this magnitude before. We want them to know that additional support is available as they not only cope with the extreme weather, but they begin the road to recovery when the drought breaks.
I urge farmers and growers in the affected areas to contact Work and Income to see what they might be eligible for.
As farmers focus on working to feed stock until Spring, we want them to know that there is support available to them. I urge those suffering hardship to talk to us.
The drought classification has also triggered other government support with $130,000 going to the Rural Support Trusts in Otago/Southland for recovery coordination and on-farm recovery facilitators. Tax relief measures are also being extended to drought affected farmers.
How do farmers get in touch with Work and Income?
Phone 0800 559 009
(NB: While Work and Income offices will be closed for Waitangi Day, phone lines will remain open).
How do farmers get in touch with a Rural Support Trust?
Phone 0800 787 254 or go to www.rural-support.org.nz
What are the affected areas?
21 districts across 6 regions
Region: Taranaki: New Plymouth, Stratford, South Taranaki
Region: Manawatu-Whanganui: Rangitikei, Whanganui, Manawatu, Palmerston North,
Region: Wellington: Kapiti Coast, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, Porirua, Wellington
Region: West Coast: Grey, Buller
Region: Southland: Southland, Invercargill City, Gore
Region: Otago: Clutha, Central Otago, Queenstown Lakes
Carmel Sepuloni is Social Development Minister of New Zealand
(Picture: File Photo)