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Tuesday 8 August 2006
Canterbury farmers still recovering from the 12 June snowstorm can now call on
the assistance of four Task Force Green teams that are working out of Ashburton
Organised jointly by Work and Income and the Ministry of Agriculture and
Forestry (MAF), the teams, comprising 26 workers, are mainly working to clear
fences broken by trees felled in the storm.
John Allen, Regional Commissioner for Social Development, said Work and Income
is funding two teams of five and six workers in the Mackenzie area, a team of
five in the Waimate area and a team of 10 from Ashburton working in foothills
near Methven and Mayfield. "The teams are providing farmers with valuable
assistance in getting their farms back to normal and at the same time workers
are gaining fencing experience and have been trained in chainsaw use and safety.
It benefits the whole community," John Allen said.
While the first snow struck well over a month ago, many farms were inaccessible
making it difficult to prioritise the damage. Task Force Green workers also had
to be recruited and trained before work could start but were now making good
progress. "The first team started on 24 July and others began work last week and
this week. There is also the possibility of forming another team in the
Mackenzie Country next week, depending on how quickly the work gets done," John
Terry Donaldson is co-ordinator of the four MAF rural support offices, set up to
assist farmers affected by the snow. He has been overseeing training for the
Task Force Green workers and making sure they are sent to priority work on the
farms that need most help.
"Some farms were badly hit, with fences in a poor state as a result of the snow.
The Task Force Green teams are able to provide practical help cleaning up this
kind of mess. It is frustrating not to have made this help available sooner, but
conditions underfoot in many places have not been suitable for this kind of
work. It has also taken time to assess where the most demand for these workers
will be, and to ensure they are correctly trained for the type of work needed,"
Terry Donaldson said.
"Now the teams are in place, we are confident the work can be done quickly so
that stock will be able to return to graze the pastures affected during calving
and lambing. We are also working with Councils, who will be taking advantage of
Task Force Green teams to clear trees from their plantations felled over
"The Task Force Green teams are proving a good morale booster for farmers. Many
farmers have been working flat out all hours since the snow, which can take its
toll. Bringing in some extra willing hands for a couple of days to help tidy up
will, in many cases, help bring the farm back to something more like normal," he
Farmers in need of assistance can contact the Government Emergency Response Line
on 0800 779 997.
Further information contact:
Tel: 0-3-358 1747 or 0-27-433 7127
MAF Regional Team Leader
Tel: 0-3-358 1864 or 0-27-432 7692
Work and Income Southern Region Public Relations Adviser
Tel: 0-3-955 6524 or 0-29-249 7935