Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Scrumming to support farmers

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Farmers and Parliament representatives tackled their skills on the rugby field in an event that raised more than $110,000 for Canterbury’s flood affected farmers. The farmers’ Fonterra Good Together team – featuring former All Blacks Aaron Mauger, Casey Laulala and Kevin O’Neill, and coached by legendary Crusaders coach Scott (Razor) Robertson – proved too good.
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Farmers and Parliament representatives tackled their skills on the rugby field in an event that raised more than $110,000 for Canterbury’s flood affected farmers.

The farmers’ Fonterra Good Together team – featuring former All Blacks Aaron Mauger, Casey Laulala and Kevin O’Neill, and coached by legendary Crusaders coach Scott (Razor) Robertson – proved too good.

Captained by Mid Canterbury dairy farmer and representative rugby player Jon Dampney, the farmers meant business, thumping the Parliamentary team 51 points to 10, but it was head-to-head all for a good cause.

In a brainstorm of ideas to raise money and support farmers impacted by recent flooding, Fonterra challenged the Parliamentary rugby team to the charity rugby match hosted by the Mid Canterbury Rugby Union at the Ashburton showgrounds.

The stand was packed full and the crowds lined the embankment in what Fonterra regional head Charles Fergusson says was certainly a good game to keep an eye on.

“It was good rugby that featured some legendary celebrities in a genuine community event that exceeded all expectations; quite heart-warming really,” Fergusson said.

“Played in four quarters; it was golden oldies in the scrums but that’s where the golden oldie ended.

“The former All Blacks certainly made an impact and there was heaps of effort both from our local team and the national team to pull off a good result all round.”

Family fun events on the day included a ball-kicking and gumboot-throwing competition and a milk drinking race.

“We had Agriculture Minister (Damien) O’Connor line up in the chocolate milk drinking race but much to his displeasure, he choked and made a bit of a mess,” he said.

At the end of the day, cheques totalling $110,000 were handed over to the Rural Support Trust to help flood affected farmers.

“People on the day were also keen to donate so all up … raised in excess of $110,000,” he said.

The Fonterra cheque of $50,000 comprised several floodraiser activities, including an online auction, while Selwyn MP Nicola Grigg and colleague Dale Stephen handed over a $60,000 cheque raised through a Give a Little campaign, to raise funds for stock feed and seed product to help farmers in their recovery.

“It was fantastic to be able to hand over $60,000 to help local farmers who have lost so much,” Grigg said.

In a separate event, Agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank New Zealand donated $50,000 to the Federated Farmers Adverse Events Trust.

Rabobank South Island regional manager Micheal Dunn says the funding will assist with the recovery of farming businesses, wellbeing support for those affected by flooding and specialist technical advice.

“The Federated Farmers Adverse Events Trust is well set up to assist affected farmers and our donation will help to ensure those who have been most severely impacted get the ongoing support they need,” Dunn said.

Rabobank has been working closely alongside flood-affected clients, with regional employees helping out on farms.

“The bank is also investigating other practical initiatives to assist farmers experiencing hardships,” he said.

Meanwhile, applications for the Government’s $4 million Canterbury Flood Recovery Fund have closed, with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) currently collating 166 grant applications.

Once validated, the applications will be assessed by an independent panel.

The panel is made up of people with knowledge of farming and local communities, including former Federated Farmers president William Rolleston, DairyNZ’s John van Polanen, former Hurunui mayor Winton Dalley, and agricultural business consultants Wayne Allan and Elle Archer.

MPI says the full amount of financial assistance being sought will only be known after the applications have been assessed.

Grants are to help clear flood debris, such as shingle, boulders, trees and silt from farm paddocks, to enable pasture and fodder crops to be resown.

MPI will contribute up to half of the clean-up cost for uninsurable works.

“It’s possible some people may have applied for assistance to cover damage or repairs which falls outside the funding criteria,” MPI said.

It is hoped the process will be completed within weeks, enabling financial support to be distributed to farmers and growers.

Successful grant applicants will receive confirmation once the independent panel has assessed all the applications and decided how the $4m will be allocated.

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