Task Force Green aid for snow-stricken farmers

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 and Timaru.

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 Allen said.

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 neighbouring fences.

"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 said.

Farmers in need of assistance can contact the Government Emergency Response Line on 0800 779 997.

Further information contact:
Terry Donaldson
Tel: 0-3-358 1747 or 0-27-433 7127
John Greer
MAF Regional Team Leader
Tel: 0-3-358 1864 or 0-27-432 7692
Juliet Larkin
Work and Income Southern Region Public Relations Adviser
Tel: 0-3-955 6524 or 0-29-249 7935



Last Updated: 23 September 2010

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