The ERT is essentially a volunteer team made up of Fonterra people who usually work in our plants. It was set up to manage operational emergencies, but they’ve also helped in extraordinary events affecting farmers like last year’s Nelson floods, and the Christchurch earthquakes, among others.
Dallen Olson, Fonterra’s Head Of Co-Operative Affairs Central Districts and his team got to work on Sunday 21 June to make sure Fonterra was ready to help affected farmers in the area.
“On Sunday we assessed the situation and set out areas of priority. The Emergency Response Team (ERT) was activated straightaway and started coming down from up north.
“We can’t do much when the flood waters are up over the fence line but as soon as they started subsiding, we were ready to get in and help,” said Dallen.
On Monday Fonterra began ringing all our farmers in the area to get a gauge of the damage and prioritise who needed help the most.
“My team visited high priority farms first, which we assessed on health and well-being. As you can imagine there were some pretty unhappy farmers, along with their families, coping with a really tough situation.
“We delivered a few pies along the way, one of my team was visiting an area we knew was severely hit, so I get him to stop at the servo and just pick up 20 pies, hopefully that helped!
“A week on, the ERT is still chipping away, mainly repairing fencing - if you can’t fence your animals you’re really struggling - and cleaning up some of the mess that’s come down the rivers,” said Dallen.
The challenge for farmers now is coping with silt and pasture damage. Some prime grazing land has been affected, as well as some winter crops. While most farmers have enough feed for now, there are those who will run out fast and will have to get it elsewhere very quickly. Farm Source are offering affected farmers feed specials with deferred or spread interest-free payment options for up to six months through stores.
Farmers in the area needing help should contact their area manager or call 0800 65 65 68.