Weather plays havoc – available support
12 January 2021
The hail in Nelson and Central Otago, and floods in Central Otago have had a severe impact on growers in those areas.
HortNZ, working collectively with NZ Apples and Pears, NZ Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated, and Summerfruit NZ, has written to the Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor to request that the Government declare an adverse event because the Government has not done this yet.
Declaring an adverse event would increase the range and depth of the support available. Our request asks for immediate help with labour; tax flexibility; and financial assistance to sustain operations – through crop consultants, financial advice and wage support – until the 2022 harvest.
On the ground, NZ Apple and Pears, NZ Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated and Zespri, and Summerfruit NZ have been providing their growers with technical advice as well as general support.
Below is some of the support currently available for affected growers, including workshops, financial assistance and other advice.
Support for growers
- The Top of the South and Otago Rural Support Trusts are offering wellness support through a Rural Support Trust 0800 RURAL HELP helpline, one-to-one support, and community events
- The Rural Support Trusts can also provide individual growers with $6000 to pay for financial or business advice from an independent consultant. Please contact Richard Kempthorne (Tasman) or Mike Lord (Otago), who can help growers to take up this support. Please go to the Rural Support Trust website for more information.
- The Farm Debt Mediation scheme has a hardship fund to help growers who are negotiating with banks with preparations and mediation costs. Please go to the Ministry for Primary Industries website for more information.
Support for growers’ employees
The Ministry of Social Development offers support to employees affected by weather events like these:
- The Emergency Benefit may be the most appropriate assistance if the impact is expected to be short-term. That is, between approximately 4-6 weeks: https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/emergency-benefit.html
- Seasonal Work Assistance is support specific to people who have moved off a benefit into seasonal work in the past 26 weeks. This support also relates to short-term impact and is based on lost wages due to bad weather: https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/seasonal-work-assistance.html
For the options above, employers need to provide confirmation of their circumstances to Work and Income staff, who are open to working with employers to simplify the verification process.
Other affected employees may qualify for financial assistance through existing products and services. Check eligibility out via this online tool: https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/online-services/eligibility/index.html
Lastly, the Ministry of Social Development does offer redundancy support for businesses, which could be an option where a group of employees have been affected by this event.
NZ Apples and Pears is holding a workshop for Tasman growers on Thursday 14 January, between 2.30 and 4.30 followed by some social time. The workshop will outline the impact of the December 2020 hail event and review the technical, financial and wellbeing implications.
Venue: Moutere Community Centre, 1539 Moutere Highway, Upper Moutere 7175.