A recent community-led event in Ruatoria provided aid for farmers and communities still grappling with the aftermath of Cyclones Hale and Gabrielle.
The boost sits alongside the initial $4 million rural community recovery fund already available to sector and regional organisations.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says the priority is to help rural communities get back on their feet as quickly as possible.
“Farmers, growers, whenua Māori owners and other rural businesses drive the economies of the regions affected by Cyclone Gabrielle,” O’Connor says.
“It’s important they have access to help now to protect future production, for example enabling remediation around tree bases to save vital trees and vines, clearing silt to improve farm access, and making repairs to stock water systems, culverts, and fencing.”
O’Connor says ministers have been on the ground in affected regions talking with farmers and growers.
“They’ve told us the grants are providing certainty of immediate funding, which has given them the confidence and reassurance to start remediating their farms and orchards.”
Finance Minister Grant Robertson says the funding extends the help available through the $25 million farmer and grower grant package announced last month.
“The uptake of the grants has been strong with the number of applications surpassing 2,846 in less than a fortnight (12 days), and more than $17.4 million paid out,” Robertson says.
“We knew there would be more need during the response phase as people took time to take stock and work through their clean-up from Cyclone Gabrielle.”
Robertson says that, like with the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government needs to be “nimble, flexible, and responsive to immediate needs”.
He says the Government is committed to helping people and businesses recover from the cyclone in the months ahead and that ministers are working on the next steps of support as the region moves to recover and rebuild from the cyclone.
Applications for the clean-up grants are open until 20 March 2023, but those in hard-to-reach areas can apply up until April 3. Farmers and growers who have already received MPI clean-up grants are not eligible to apply again.