It is vital that the terms of reference for the inquiry into the Rangitaiki Plains floods are structured to ensure all areas of concern can be examined, says Darryl Jenson, President of Bay of Plenty Federated Farmers.
The inquiry, headed by Sir Michael Cullen, and initiated by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, was announced shortly after the April 6 floods which swept through the town of Edegcumbe, surrounding farms and at Galatea, Waimana and Taneatua.
Darryl, who has been appointed by the Ministry for Primary Industries as operations manager for rural recovery in the area, says 90 pumps working 24/7 for 12 days were needed to clear flood waters from affected Rangitaiki Plains farms.
“We had shifts of people manning the pumps, keeping them running, and re-fuelled. There were 50 permanent pumps and 40 pumps brought in from outside the area. One tractor alone, running a pump used 25 litres of fuel an hour.”
The knowledge of long-time plains farmers has been invaluable in the response to the floods, he says. Now Task Force Green workers have been sent to help farmers in Edgecumbe, Galatea, Waimana and Taneatua, including restoring fencing and cleaning up farms.
“Farmers take great pride in their properties and hate to see farms in a mess, but they also have to focus on other jobs like re-grassing, talking to accountants and banks to sort out finances and planning for the season ahead.”
Recovery from the floods will take months and seriously impact the income of most farmers. However, Darryl says generous response to the floods from throughout the region and the country has been impressive and he urges farmers to ask for help when they need it.
Help is at hand
The flood waters may have receded but their impacts will be felt for a long time to come. That’s why Federated Farmers and The Rural Support Trust are urging farmers and their families not to try to “go it alone”.
Help, either in the form of hand-on work, grazing for animals, feed, grass seed, advice on how to manage flood-damaged pastures and finances, or just a friendly talk, is only a phone call away.
Federated Farmers’ flood helpline, 0800 326 646 (option 3), is open for feed donations, or choose option 4 for other on-farm help, including stock movements, generators etc.
The Rural Support Trust, phone 0800 787 254 is available anytime. The trust members are local rural people that know from experience that severe weather, finances, relationships, and work pressures can all mount up.
The free service offers a confidential chat about you, your business, the weather, your finances; or a neighbour, partner, friend, family member, or worker.
If you need more than a chat, the trust can point you in the right direction.