Flooding costs farmers NZ$70m

By Chloe Ryan

- Last updated on GMT

Flooding in New Zealand has damaged over 800 rural properties
Flooding in New Zealand has damaged over 800 rural properties

Related tags Lamb new zealand Lamb Farm Beef Livestock

Flooding on New Zealand’s north island in June cost the farming industry NZ$70 million, a report published by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has estimated. 

Hundreds of beef and sheep farms were affected when storms swept through the country, hitting 800 rural properties, causing landslides and damaging infrastructure.

MPI director of resource policy, David Wansbrough, said the Taranaki and Horizons regions were worst affected.

“Around 460 sheep and beef farms were affected, some with significant levels of infrastructure damage and lost productive capacity. The on-farm economic impact to sheep and beef farms is estimated to total NZ$57.6m.

“Dairy farms were mainly impacted by silt from flooding, with an estimated on-farm economic impact of NZ$6.4m. There was little damage overall to the horticultural sector with the on-farm crop losses estimated to total NZ$1.2m.

“The storm also damaged approximately 800-900 hectares of plantation forest area which we estimate will cost around NZ$1.2m to re-establish.”

Under the Primary Sector Recovery Policy, the government classified the storm as a medium-scale adverse event. Funding has been made available to assist the rural farming community recover from the storm to assist infrastructure repairs on severely impacted farms; provide assistance for clean-up through Enhanced Taskforce Green; and provide access to Rural Assistance Payments for those in extreme financial hardship.

According to Beef + Lamb New Zealand, low numbers of stock were lost during the storm, an estimated 1%. However, the main effects are longer term, including an impact on the ability of farmers to optimise feeding over winter and during the critical periods around lambing and calving.

Storm damage to pastures means many farmers have lower than desirable feed levels. “As a result of fencing damage, farmers are unable to control pasture utilisation, which impacts production,”​ the report stated.

“Limited management options in terms of shifting stock, potential overfeeding before lambing followed by underfeeding after lambing and additional stress on animals will take a toll on livestock. Pasture covers will be less than optimal for lambing and calving, which will likely lead to metabolic issues and stock losses. Farmers have also been unable to move stock due to slips and this means they cannot undertake normal seasonal work such as shearing, do lambing beats or in some cases muster stock for sale.

“The reduction in trading margin from selling lambs and cattle earlier than planned due to lack of feed (or indeed having to hold prime lambs longer than planned due to lack of access) has not been estimated.

Similarly the reduction in stock-carrying capacity is calculated in terms of its impact on production and gross margins, but not the possible difference between the sale value and the cost of replacement, which could be higher or lower.”

MPI’s report is based on a collation of data, views and opinions from a range of sources, including: Rural Support Trusts, Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, Fonterra, Taranaki Regional Council, Horizons Regional Council, local consultants, and NIWA.

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