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Environment Southland Focusing On Helping Farmers

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Farmers struggling with dead stock or overflowing effluent ponds can turn to Environment Southland for help and advice.

Warren Tuckey, Director of Environmental Management, says all the Council's land sustainability and compliance staff are focused on helping farmers finding the best ways to deal with the effects of the bitter weather.

Thousands of sheep, lambs and other stock are reported to have died already, with others still at risk from snow, rain, icy wind and sodden ground. Dairy farmers who are not able to irrigate because of the saturated soils are looking for alternative ways to deal with their dairy shed effluent.

"This is an emergency and we are here to help in whatever way we can," Mr Tuckey says. "We are totally focused on helping farmers cope, and we have suspended all our normal compliance activities, though we will respond to complaints and reported incidents if they are of serious concern." Staff are offering advice on how best to deal with stored effluent during the emergency - this might include irrigating it onto parts of a farm that were not included in the property's consent.

Land sustainability staff are working with farmers to suggest ways of disposing of dead stock. Normally dead stock are buried in offal pits but with farms waterlogged, many farmers won't have anywhere suitable for mass burials. The regional air plan allows for dead stock to be burned in an emergency but this is not a viable option at the moment, and burial in shallow trenches could be a solution on some properties.

The Council's Consents Manager, John Engel, is working with Slinkskins Ltd on options for disposing of the huge number of lamb carcasses they are collecting. This includes composting, mass burial and reducing the numbers collected.

Farmers will also have some respite from bills, with the Council putting a temporary hold on posting invoices to rural addresses.

"We're also providing support to the Southland Rural Support Trust," Mr Tuckey says. The trust has been offered the use of the new Emergency Management Southland headquarters to coordinate their response to the storm, and the Council is providing secretarial support to the trust.

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