OPINION: Once again there's a flurry of activity as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Trade Damien O'Connor and a band of dedicated officials and leading agricultural representatives fly into Brussels where the powerful European Union is based.
From today, access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) are available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced.
“These challenging conditions have spread across multiple regions and are impacting our farming families and we need to ensure their resilience going forward,” says Sepuloni.
RAPs are payments equal to Jobseeker Support, but tax relief measures are also available.
The Government is encouraging farmers to also apply for other kinds of assistance, for example hardship grants to refill water tanks or cover other unexpected costs.
The drought was recently classified as a large-scale adverse event by Minister of Agriculture and Rural Communities Damien O’Connor. It covers the entire North Island along with the top of the South Island (Tasman, Marlborough, Kaikoura), North Canterbury and the Chatham Islands.
O’Connor said the extreme and prolonged nature of this dry spell is taking its toll on farmers and growers and additional support is needed.
“The pressure on our rural communities right now is extreme, and this Government is committed to helping them get through.
We’re continuing to keep a close eye on conditions around the country, in case more help is required. The Government is committed to doing all we can to support farmers and growers at what is a very challenging time.”
The regions covered by RAPs assistance from today include:
• the Auckland City Council wards of Albert-Eden-Puketāpapa, Orākei, Franklin, Howick, Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura, Maungakiekie-Tāmaki
• Waikato Regional Council
• Bay of Plenty Regional Council
• Gisborne District Council
• Taranaki Regional Council
• Hawke’s Bay Regional Council
• Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council
• Wellington Regional Council
• Tasman District Council
• Nelson City Council
• Marlborough District Council
• Kaikōura District Council
• Hurunui District Council
• Waimakariri District Council
• Selwyn District Council
• Christchurch City Council
• Chatham Islands Council
“I urge people struggling as a result of the drought to contact the Rural Support Trust or go online at Work and Income, keyword drought2020, to see what they might be eligible for,” says Sepuloni.
Contact the Rural Support Trust on 0800 787 254 or go to www.rural-support.org.nz.