A $2.4 million funding boost has been welcomed by Rural Support Trusts, which say they are being stretched by the successive adverse weather events that have hit the country since last October.
Of the $2.4m additional government funding, $1.9m is going to trusts based in the North Island to help deal with adverse weather events that began with late frosts hitting Bay of Plenty kiwifruit growers in October and continued with a series of storms since January.
The total package also includes $517,000 in baseline funding for Rural Support Trusts.
Rural Support Trust national chair Neil Bateup said trusts are busy but coping, helped by trusts in other regions taking some of the load.
“Our teams are very busy. There is a lot of support required and pressure on farmers and growers,” he said.
The extra funding will be used to ensure trusts can provide help, hold events so farmers and growers can get away from their businesses, and recruit rural professionals and technical support to provide advice along with counselling support.
Rural Communities Minister Kieran McAnulty said the network of 14 regional trusts provides free and confidential assistance to farmers and growers who are facing personal, financial, or climate-related challenges.
This is especially needed in the North Island where trusts in Northland, Waikato-Hauraki- Coromandel, East Coast Rural Support Trusts, and the organisation’s national council will receive a funding boost to cope with the extra demands.
“The funding will assist Rural Support Trusts to co-ordinate local recovery services, clean-up efforts, wellbeing events and extension workshops, and provide other specialised support.
“It will also include delivering regional recovery plans and providing one-on-one support and a mental health referral service for farmers and growers.”
Bateup said storms and adverse weather since late frosts hit last October have touched virtually every area of agriculture in the north of the country, impacting kumara, vegetables, kiwifruit, grapes, apples and livestock.