23 Sep 2010

Struggling farmers to receive government aid

7:32 pm on 23 September 2010

Farmers in Southland and south Otago struggling with the worst spring weather in decades are to receive assistance from the Government.

Bitterly cold wind and snow has fallen in Southland and parts of Otago since Saturday and thousands of lambs and pregnant ewes have died.

Federated Farmers believes the economic loss will be worse than the devastating Canterbury earthquake.

Agriculture Minister David Carter has declared a medium level adverse weather event in Southland and southern Otago following nearly a week of severe weather which is not showing any signs of abating.

Mr Carter says funding for the Rural Support Trust will provide welfare support and taxation relief for those farmers in need.

"Farmers will have lost a considerable amount of next year's income but, more importantly, they are under huge stress as they cope with the stock losses."

Mr Carter says it too early to estimate the cost of the storm to farmers.

Federated Farmers says it is the worst storm in nearly 40 years, and estimates up to 800 farms have suffered losses. The last time there was anything as severe was in 1972.

More strong winds and rain is forecast for Southland on Thursday night and Friday.