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How much money did the great floods of June 2015 cost New Zealand farmers?

The heavy rains and flooding of New Zealand in June 2015 did our country no favours whatsoever. When the heavens opened on the 18th of that month, few would realise what a lasting negative impact the floods would have on the section of the western North Island which they fell. Indeed, when it started raining, it barely stopped, and in the three days leading up June 20, some 300 millilitres fell on Manawatu, Rangitikei, Taranaki and Whanganui, according to NZFarmer.

In the three days leading up June 20, some 300 millilitres fell on Manawatu, Rangitikei, Taranaki and Whanganui.

With a great deal of farmland scattered across those four regions, it goes without saying that the flooding came at huge financial loss to business located out there. A new report released by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has revealed precisely how much damage was done during that month.

Flooded farmers

Though it looks as though the dairy farming sector was largely spared the majority of the waters, sheep and beef farmers are faced with a hefty bill. In Whanganui alone, almost all sheep and beef farming ventures were affected in one way or another by the floods.

It wasn't just farmers hit by the floods, as roads were closed, bridges became out-of-bounds other businesses found themselves out of pocket as the region counted the cost of the worst that nature could throw at them.

Counting the cost

In the MPI's report, it was revealed that the total cost of the damage to sheep and beef farms was estimated at NZ$57.6 million, affecting a staggering 460 businesses. Mainly, this is down to the landslides and infrastructural damage that occurred due to the sheer volume of water falling in such a short space of time. An enormous 92 per cent of Whanganui's 179 farms were hit by the floods, leaving hundreds of farmers facing big losses.

There were, though, one or two chinks of light to be taken from the MPI's report. Dairy farming establishments remained relatively unaffected, with only silt from the floodwaters the main cause for concern – but it still cost that particular sector some $6.4million. Additionally, the horticulture sector also got off relatively lightly, with crop losses costing farmers $1.2 million.

The flooding of June 2015 spelled bad news for the intrepid NZ farmer.
The flooding of June 2015 spelled bad news for the intrepid NZ farmer.

The rebuild is already well underway, with 86 kilometres of fencing needing fixed. Silt and debris also needing to be cleared away. It is thought that around 7,000 hours will be needed to carry out these tasks.

The MPI was keen to point out that help is at hand for rural folk who need it:

"We know this is a stressful time for many in New Zealand's rural communities and many rural people can be reluctant to ask for help. We encourage anyone in need of support or assistance to contact their local Rural Support Trust on 0800 787 254 or visit," said MPI Director of Resource Policy David Wansbrough.

The floods affected significant swathes of the North Island.