Tuesday, 27 February 2018 09:55

‘Farmers got off lightly’

Written by  Peter Burke
Damien O’Connor. Damien O’Connor.

Despite all the damage inflicted on the dairy sector by ex-cyclone Gita, the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor thinks farmers got off lightly.

He told Dairy News, just after flying over badly hit Takaka and the West Coast, that it could have been worse. 

He praised the local councils, farmers and others who prepared for the cyclone, and Fonterra for working hard to barge milk from dairy farmers to the processing plant.

“Takaka itself is isolated and milk processing is an issue as is getting petrol and other supplies into the town.The northern part around Takaka and Riwaka had been hard hit by the water and some of the slips on the road. 

“Further down the Coast there was a bit of wind damage but they got out of it quite well. In general we got off relatively lightly from what was a big storm,” he says.

O’Connor says big pockets of rain had come down hard in some catchments but not in others, having a mitigating effect in terms of damage. 

But the slips will take people a lot of time to clean up, especially with this latest storm following hard on the previous one – “a big challenge for people”.

O’Connor says some Westport farm buildings had their roofs blown off and drought there means farmers don’t have a lot of surplus feed.

“We hope we get some fine weather to get the grass growing before winter,” he says. 

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