Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has today officially classified the drought conditions in Northland as being a medium-scale adverse event.
“This is recognition of the extreme dry conditions farmers and growers are facing, and triggers additional Government support,” says Mr Guy.
“Extra funding will now be available if required to coordinate support through local organisations like the Rural Support Trusts. In extreme cases there will also be Rural Assistance Payments (RAPs) available to farmers in severe hardship.”
The announcement follows a request from local groups including the Northland Rural Support Trust and advice from the Ministry for Primary Industries who have been closely monitoring conditions.
“Farmers have been working hard and preparing for these conditions, but things are getting tough and there is little rain forecast for the next couple of weeks.
“There is significant soil moisture deficits, low pasture covers, low supplementary feed, and maize crops have struggled.
“Inland Revenue will also be exercising its income equalisation discretion to help provide flexibility and relief for drought-affected farmers.
“Many rural people can be reluctant to ask for help, but it is important for them to know that support is available.
“Once again this reinforces the importance of irrigation and water storage. Last year Crown Irrigation Investments announced $165,000 to scope irrigation scheme options in Northland, and in 2015 MPI contributed $75,000 towards a report examining the potential of irrigation here.”
“The Government is also keeping a very close eye on many parts of the East Coast of the North Island and supporting North Canterbury in their recovery.”
Mr Guy made the announcement today while visiting a dairy farm near Kerikeri.
Criteria for classifying a medium scale adverse event
- There are three levels of ‘adverse events’ – localised, medium and national. These can cover events like drought, floods, fire, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
- The criteria for assessing the scale of an adverse event are:
- Options available for the community to prepare for and recover from the event;
- Magnitude of the event (likelihood and scale of physical impact), and;
- Capacity of the community to cope economically and socially impact.
- North Island dry conditions February 2017.jpg (jpg 2.57 MB)
Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have praised the progress of the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan, one year on from its launch.
The action plan has been developed and led by the Northland Regional Governance Group and is part of the Government’s Regional Growth Programme. It identifies over 50 actions to support and enable growth in Northland.
“Significant work has been undertaken in the past year and we are starting to see the economic and social benefits of this across the region,” Mr Bridges says.
“The plan is moving forward in several key areas such as digital technology with more than $33 million being invested Northland’s ultra-fast broadband roll-out and the region’s digital enablement plan complete.
“It has also been successful in supporting young people. The Kaikohe Growth Industries Pathway program has a number of Northland youth on a pathway to employment, and the Tai Tokerau Resort College helping ensure there are skilled people to support the booming local tourism industry.”
Mr Guy says several initiatives that enable Northlanders involved in the primary sector to make the most of their businesses are making headway.
“Extension 350 is well underway. This new initiative sees clusters of dairy farms working together and receiving expert business direction advice.
“The Māori Forestry Collective for Tai Tokerau is now formed and the lessons from a completed prototype planting of 505 hectares will support the next phase of the group’s work.”
Mr Bridges says these are just a few examples of the work being done in the region.
“Now is a good time to take stock and reflect on the achievements made so far and to refresh the plan to ensure it still reflects Northland’s aspirations.”
For more information on the Regional Growth Programme, visit http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/regions-cities/regional-growth-programme.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is seeking public comment on a proposal to relocate up to six salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds to locations with better environmental and economic outcomes.
“This proposal is about making better use of existing aquaculture space. There is no proposed increase in the total surface structure area used for salmon farming in the Marlborough Sounds,” says Mr Guy.
“Last year a working group of community, iwi, officials, and industry representatives was established to look at options for salmon farming under new environmental guidelines.
“The working group considered nine potential sites for relocation of the farms, and the Government has decided to progress six of these for public consultation.
“The proposed sites are further from residential properties, and are positioned in areas with stronger water currents, which would reduce the environmental effects on the seabed,” says Mr Guy.
Five of the six proposed relocation sites put forward for consideration are in Pelorus Sound and one is in Tory Channel. The Marlborough District Council has been involved in developing the proposal.
An independent panel of three resource management experts will review expert research reports, analyse all written comments and hold public hearings during April 2017.
The panel will be chaired by former Environment Court judge Professor Peter Skelton, and also includes Ron Crosby and Alan Dormer, all highly experienced resource management experts.
“The independent advisory panel has the appropriate expertise and experience to evaluate the detailed technical information, as well as all the comments received, and provide me a report and recommendations to consider,” says Mr Guy.
“I expect that people will hold a variety of views about how best to achieve long-term sustainability of salmon farming in the Marlborough Sounds, and I am interested in all feedback we receive on the relocation proposal,” says Mr Guy.
The six farms proposed to be relocated are operated by New Zealand King Salmon.
“Moving these farms would allow the company to implement the environmental guidelines it has agreed with the Government, the Marlborough District Council, scientists and the community,” says Mr Guy.
Consultation on the relocation proposal starts today and will close on Monday, 27 March. Following consultation and hearings process, the independent panel will prepare advice for the Minister to consider later in the year. Government agencies will also provide advice to the Minister.
If relocation proceeds, the Minister for Primary Industries would make regulations under section 360A of the Resource Management Act 1991 to change the Marlborough Sounds Resource Management Plan to enable relocation.
The consultation document, and further information including the timings of drop-in sessions and public hearings can be found at: http://www.mpi.govt.nz/news-and-resources/consultations/marlborough-salmon-relocation/
Farmers who need an extra hand on the farm as a result of November’s earthquake and aftershocks can call 0800 FARMING (327 646) and have their needs matched with skilled workers and volunteers.
“As we move from the response to recovery phase, some farmers and growers will need skilled hands to get back to pre-quake operational levels,” says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.
“For example, many farmers have suffered damage to key infrastructure such as fences and water reticulation systems. This kind of infrastructure requires experienced labour to get back up and running,” says Mr Guy.
The initiative uses the Federated Farmers 0800 FARMING line as a single point of contact. The line has been open to members and non-members since the earthquake and has a comprehensive database of both farmers’ needs and offers of help.
“It’s fantastic to see some volunteer workers and networks have started some of their own initiatives. Officials will be extending a hand to these groups to encourage them to work with this centralised resource if possible,” says Mr Guy.
“All skilled workers deployed will be appropriately remunerated and volunteers can have some costs reimbursed. The initiative will also help ensure that issues such as like health and safety are managed in what is still a challenging situation,” says Mr Guy.
MPI has contracted Agriculture Employment Services Ltd (AgStaff) and Federated Farmers to manage the initiative over the next four months. This includes worker contracts, health and safety induction and training, coordinating travel and logistics, and the reimbursement of fair and reasonable costs for volunteer workers.
All calls for assistance will be managed to either AgStaff (for labour assistance) or other support organisations who are involved. Calls are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Resources available for earthquake recovery assistance:
- Contact Federated Farmers on 0800 FARMING (327 646) to lodge requests for, or offers of, help on the farm. All requests and offers are being managed through this central system.
- Calls are answered 24 hours a day.
- Contact your local Rural Support Trust on 0800 RURAL HELP (0800 787 254) for a free, private and confidential chat. A Trust person can come to see you and, if needed, point you in the right direction for further help.
- The Government Helpline is open for calls about all government support available, on 0800 77 99 97 from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
- If your circumstances have changed as a result of the earthquake, talk to your accountant, bank, and Work and Income to see what other help you may be eligible for.
- Industry groups like Beef + Lamb NZ and dairy organisations are also available to assist with technical advice, such as farm management and land remediation in earthquake-damaged areas.
New improvements to biosecurity processing at Auckland Airport have been welcomed by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today.
“We are expecting the busiest summer ever for visitor arrivals so the Ministry for Primary Industries is now on high alert for biosecurity threats. These new measures will improve how we process and screen passengers for any extra, unwanted visitors,” says Mr Guy.
The changes include:
- A new dedicated biosecurity lane for New Zealand and Australian travellers with no declarations to be screened and processed.
- Two detector dog teams on duty at the same time covering all lanes.
- An additional baggage x-ray machine, bringing the total to seven at the international airport.
“As well as improving biosecurity screening, the extra space will mean more efficient clearance of passengers.”
The changes have been developed in partnership with Auckland Airport who have funded the physical redevelopment.
“This summer we are expecting 1.6 million passengers to arrive in New Zealand, most of whom enter via Auckland. On a busy day arrival numbers at Auckland airport could reach 18,500.
“Biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister. In last year’s Budget I announced $27 million in new funding which has helped MPI employ 50 new front line biosecurity staff and 20 extra biosecurity detector dog teams.
“We have also introduced new x-ray scanning machines, including mobile units that can be moved around the country to help clear cruise ship passengers as well as at airports and international mail centres during peak times.
“An animated biosecurity video featuring ‘Officer Goodboy’ is now playing on 16 airlines entering New Zealand, raising awareness with passengers of the importance of declaring items.
“The recently released Biosecurity 2025 Direction Statement is also setting a future direction and helping future proof the system.”
The public has one week left to make a submission on new proposals to modernise and future-proof New Zealand’s fisheries management system, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.
“The Future of our Fisheries is a major programme of work to improve the sustainable, long-term benefits enjoyed by all New Zealanders,” says Mr Guy.
“Public meetings have been held around the country with good turnout and engagement from all sectors – recreational, customary and commercial. However submissions close on Friday 23 December so people need to send their thoughts in over the next seven days.”
The three strategic proposals are maximising value from our fisheries, better fisheries information and agile and responsive decision-making.
There are also two regulatory changes outlined for the Integrated Electronic Monitoring and Reporting System (IERMS), which includes cameras, geospatial monitoring and electronic reporting, and providing flexibility for developing new trawl technologies.
“Our fisheries management has been recognised as world-leading, but we need to keep looking for ways to improve the system and meet future challenges. This is a great opportunity for everyone to have their say on how we can better manage one of New Zealand’s most valuable resources.”
A full copy of the document and information on where public meetings will be held is available at http://mpi.govt.nz/news-and-resources/consultations/future-of-our-fisheries.