Minister pays tribute to drought heroes
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy paid tribute to Rural Support Trust members at a function in Parliament, thanking them for their work during the drought earlier this year. “This was the worst drought in 70 years and a very tough time for many rural communities. Rural Support Trusts worked tirelessly to lift farmer and community morale. I want to salute them for the work they did in sitting around the kitchen table with so many farmers, supporting them to find a way through. They opened doors to vital support service and helped people to make better decisions for themselves, their families and their livelihoods. Many farmers are staunch and reluctant to ask for help. Their farms can be geographically isolated, and the stress can affect the whole family. This represents the best part of what it means to be a New Zealander – that we look out for our mates and neighbours, and support them when they’re down.” Representatives from the 14 regional trusts were in Wellington for a workshop with the Ministry for Primary Industries and were presented with certificates of appreciation by the Minister. Some $320,000 in additional Government funding was made available to Rural Support Trusts this year to support their drought efforts. A total of 146 applications for Rural Assistance Payments were also granted this year with $814,277 in assistance paid. These are paid at an equivalent rate to the unemployment benefit and were available to those in extreme hardship. “I want to thank everyone who banded together to help rural communities in their time of need, including the Ministry for Primary Industries, Work and Income, Rural Support Trusts, IRD, Rural Women, the NZ Veterinary Association, Beef + Lamb NZ, Dairy NZ and many banks who offered special packages. I also want to thank Federated Farmers who organised shipments from the South Island of around 100,000 bales of rye-grass and barley straw,” says Mr Guy.