Farmers relieved to get milk picked up

5:01 pm on 5 December 2016

Dairy farmers in Kaikōura have had their milk picked up this morning for the first time since the 7.8 earthquake three weeks weeks ago.

Twenty two dairy farms in the Kaikōura region could not be accessed by milk tankers until today because the only route in and out, the Inland Road, is considered fragile and hazardous.

Civil Defence has opened the road today to milk tankers, essential freight, campervans and other vehicles.

Mark Hislop milks 1700 cows across his two dairy farms in Kaikōura, but one is so badly damaged he cannot milk his cows on it.

He said being able to get milk picked up would ease the stress for farmers.

"It's a big relief. The tankers are here in the community and they've started picking up milk and ferrying it to contractor tankers and those will take the milk out this afternoon when the road opens.

"Hopefully all the milk will be picked up that's in the area today."

Mr Hislop, along with the other 22 dairy farmers has had to dump milk for the past three weeks.

"It goes into the sewege pond and then out on the paddocks, we've had to watch the spreading rates because of the higher nitrogen levels. The fat and protein in the milk can actually be quite tough on the pastures.

"The fat content makes it hard to soak in, it has different properties to straight effluent."

The milk lost was all covered by insurance, said Mr Hislop.

Transport Agency regional performance manager Pete Connors said about 240 vehicles would be driving north on the road this morning.

Another 226 vehicles - including 80 rentals - are going south.

Mr Connors said some of the 80 or so contractors along the road could help if anything went wrong.

"It's just what we need to do, it's just part of management, we've got safety practices in there.

"It's difficult but it's a bit of a compromise to moving traffic as well as getting the road fixed. That's a challenge for us and that's going to continue probably for about another week."

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