7 Sep 2010

Rural resilience to the fore

3:31 pm on 7 September 2010

The farming community is showing its resilience in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquake.

Dairy farmers have been helping neighbours with damaged milking sheds to ensure the cows are milked and there's also been an immediate and large scale response to shift eight thousand tonnes of grain from collapsed silos.

Federated farmers has been co-ordinating a lot of the rural relief efforts through its 0800 Farming helpline (0800 327646).

Chief executive Connor English says it's becoming clear that power and water supplies and stock welfare and will be major on-going challenges for farmers.

Agriculture Minister David Carter says the full extent of the quake damage to rural areas in Canterbury won't be known for weeks.

While some dairy sheds, grain silos and farm houses have been destroyed, he says it's the damage underground that could potentially be the biggest concern.

"At this stage we have no idea about the extent of damage to underground irrigation systems," he said.

Fonterra says no dairy farmers in Canterbury have had to spill milk despite the difficulties they have been under since the earthquake hit.

The company has been helping supply generators for farmers without power, or arranging for them to use neighbours' milking sheds.

Chief executive Andrew Ferrier says its tankers have still been able to collect milk.

Phone services

Telephone services have largely been restored, both for landline and cellphone networks.

Generators have been used to power phone services in rural areas, disrupted by power cuts.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury president, Neil Stott, who runs a sheep farm outside Darfield, says the land-line service in his district kept going throughout the emergency and its aftermath.

He attributes that to lessons learned from the big Canterbury snowstorm in 2006.