With swollen rivers still rising in some areas, DairyNZ reports that more than 100 dairy farms in Southland and South Otago are being severely impacted by the extensive flooding in the region.
While the scale of damage is unknown at this time, DairyNZ’s South Island manager, Tony Finch, says these farms are either under water or cut off with access roads flooded.
“We’re in phone contact with many of the farmers. It’s a dire situation for many right now. Their key focus is to get their people and their animals to safety,” he says.
“Farmers and their teams are moving their cows to higher ground where they can, and we know of some who have been able to relocate their herd to their neighbour’s farm out of the danger zone.”
While flooding ravages Southland-South Otago, dairy farmers in other parts of the country, in particular Northland, are facing drought conditions.
Dairy farms in the Southland-South Otago Oreti, Aparima and Clutha river catchments are the most severely impacted with the flooding and many areas are now also without power.
With access to the farms cut off, dairy companies are not able to get tankers in to collect milk, which means many farmers will need to dispose of the uncollected milk.
“Added to this, the flooding has impacted effluent management systems on many of the farms so farmers now also face the challenge of how to dispose of this in the best way,” says Mr Finch.
Farmers in the affected regions are working together to accommodate animals on any dry land there is.
“We’re also talking with farmers where the milk tankers can reach them, and many are sharing their milking sheds with neighbours who’re flooded.”
As well as farmers helping each other, Mr Finch says impacted farmers can contact DairyNZ for help and advice.
“Adverse events like flooding create a lot of stress. I urge any farmers or farm team members who need support to give us a call, or contact the Rural Support Trust. Any farmers needing advice on managing effluent should get in touch with their local councils.”
DairyNZ will continue to monitor this situation to assess the information and support farmers require.
Farmers can call 027 226 4420 or 0800 4 DairyNZ (0800 4 324 7969) Monday-Friday 8am-4.30pm.
Rural Support’s phone number is 0800 787 254.