NZ Hurunui District Dairy Farmer Deals With Aftermath Of EarthQuake

Hurunui District dairy farmer Duncan Rutherford knew his cows were unhappy when he heard them the moment Monday morning’s massive earthquake hit.

“I ran outside when it happened, the cows were bellowing away and all huddled together in a corner of the paddock,” he recalled.

His dairy shed was out of action for a while but it has since been repaired. Farmhouses on the property have also been damaged by the 7.8 magnitude quake.

In the Hurunui district damaged bridges have meant some farms are cut off from milk tankers.
In the Hurunui district damaged bridges have meant some farms are cut off from milk tankers.

“It’s definitely affected milk production. We had no power so the cows were a bit short of water and out of their normal routine.”

Fonterra was able to drive tankers into his property but his neighbour’s farm was inaccessible so his cows had been shifted temporarily on to nearby farms.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury dairy spokesman Michael Woodward says farmer morale is holding up in quake-affected areas.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury dairy spokesman Michael Woodward says farmer morale is holding up in quake-affected areas.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury dairy spokesman Michael Woodward said Fonterra was supplied by 99 farms in the Hurunui region, 10 of which were north of the Waiau River, some of which were “in a bad way”.

“Six farms were really badly affected, but everything is running apart from one milking shed which is irreparable. No milk has had to be spilt, some cows have been spread around neighbouring farms.”

Morale was still good but a lot of people were running on adrenalin. Farmers and farm workers were stepping in to work as relief milkers to give the worst affected a break.

All cows in the Kaikoura region are being milked although none of the milk is being collected because tankers cannot get through.

Sheep and beef farmers in both districts were hit by lack of water for their stock, with tanks and pipes damaged. Replacing the infrastructure would be “the long game”, Woodward said.

Meanwhile Federated Farmers said since its helpline was set up 0800FARMING (0800 327 646) on Monday about 200 calls had been logged. The line aims to match those offering help with those who need it.

Miriam Bravenboer, a member services team leader, said offers included accommodation, generators, money, willingness to take on cows for milking and manpower for urgent farming tasks.

A lines company that had trucks heading north asked if any farmers needed items transported.

“One person offered a year’s worth of grazing for up to 1000 stock units for free. The person preferred that help to be for a young and struggling farming family but wasn’t too worried if that wasn’t the case.

“Someone else with access to six helicopters asked ‘what do you need?’. And a Christchurch business that leases caravans is offering free delivery if farm accommodation was destroyed by the earthquakes,” Bravenboer said.

Just eight of the calls logged were from farmers who needed help but she anticipated that would pick up as phone and internet services in the badly affected districts started to come back online.

Help requested included somewhere to store deer velvet because a freezer unit had been knocked out, and someone else who needed drinking water.

The 0800 number was also available to townspeople in affected areas who needed assistance.

Federated Farmers Adverse Events spokeswoman Katie Milne said she was delighted with the way other organisations were responding in a spirit of pulling together to get communities on the east coast of the South Island back up to speed.

Spark, Chorus, Vodafone and other telecommunications providers were working together to reinstate data and phone back-up links wherever it was technically feasible. Farmlands, FMG and New Zealand Post have all offered assistance from their teams in the region.
By: Gerard Hutching
Source: Stuff.co.nz

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