Saturday, December 2, 2023

Hail costs mount up to millions

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Hail-hit Canterbury farmers face losses of millions of dollars following the November 20 storm.
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FMG claims national manager Emma Town said the company has pulled out all stops to progress crop-related claims as quickly as possible.

“We are working really hard to progress claims and support our clients and the community so they can get back on track.”

Almost all claims are now with specialist assessors. They are from wheat and arable growers and fruit orchardists.

Farmers counting their losses suggest collectively it could cost millions of dollars but Town said it is too early to put a figure on it.  

“The full extent of damage is unknown,” Town said.

So far 59 United WheatgrowersNZ claims have been lodged from farmers from Timaru to Rangiora.

A further 38 claims have been lodged by farmers in Mid and central Canterbury  for other hail-damaged arable crops including peas, linseed, barley, radish and other vegetable seed crops.

Further north fruit crops also fell victim to the hail storm with 132 claims from fruit blocks in the top of the South, particularly around Motueka and Riwaka.

Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers president David Clark said hail can be very cruel.

“We can have devastation on one side of the boundary fence and nothing on the other side – that’s one of the cruel parts of hail on arable and fruit crops.”

Hail stones, some as big as golf balls, pummelled the district.

“It’s been devastating and extremely disappointing for those farmers who have been hit.”

It was been fortunate the weather has been warm and dry since, limiting the risk of disease and fungal problems brought on by crop damage but farmers need to be vigilant.

Clark encouraged them to take good agronomical advice about what they can do to mitigate fungal invasion.

“Farmers should also be looking at what the markers for these crops could now be, both across grain and seed and winter feed crops.”

Clark said there’s been varying reports about the extent of the damage.

In some cases farmers might have had incurred 50% damage to 15% of the total farm area and others might be looking at 15%-20% damage across the whole farm.

“That’s the nature of hail. It ranges from minor to major, even in one paddock. It’s significant where it hits but across the fence it can be quite minor.”

The crops aside there’s also been significant damage to vehicles and infrastructure.

“A lot of panelbeaters and a lot of people who replace skylights on buildings are going to be very busy,” Clark said.

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