Government backs Rural Support Trusts

The Government is backing Rural Support Trusts to provide more help to farmers and growers affected by severe weather events in the North Island with at least $2.4 million in funding for the 2023-24 financial year.

“It’s been a challenging start to 2023, with multiple weather events, including Cyclone Gabrielle, causing unprecedented devastation, and flooding across the North Island,” Kieran McAnulty said.

“During those significant weather events, the Rural Support Trust stepped up to provide critical response and recovery services to affected farmers, growers, and rural communities.

“Recovery efforts in these regions are ongoing and increased demand for wellbeing support is likely to continue, placing additional demand on Rural Support Trusts.”

The Rural Support Trust is a collective of 14 regional trusts which deliver free and confidential assistance to farmers and growers facing personal, financial, or climate-related challenges.

“The total package includes $517,000 in baseline funding for Rural Support Trusts, plus an additional $1.9 million to support recovery efforts from the North Island weather events,” Kieran McAnulty said.

“This includes extra funding for the Northland, Waikato-Hauraki-Coromandel, and East Coast Rural Support Trusts, and the organisation’s national council.

“The funding will assist Rural Support Trusts to coordinate local recovery services, clean-up efforts, wellbeing events, extension workshops, and provide other specialised support.

“It will also include delivering regional recovery plans and providing one-on-one support and a mental health referral service for farmers and growers.

“This support ollows the $35.4 million in Budget 2023 to support the recovery of rural communities affected by North Island weather events in 2023, including Cyclone Gabrielle.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said Rural Support Trusts’ work is very important in the acute phase of events.

“Our industries’ international competitive edge comes from our people. The Rural Support Trusts are funded to put people at the heart of any response, getting farmers and growers through the toughest times so they can tackle getting back to business as usual,” Damien O’Connor said.

“The Rural Support Trust does vital work. I have travelled to regions affected by the severe weather events and heard first-hand how they have supported rural communities through some incredibly difficult times. I’m extremely pleased that we can increase our funding to support them in the incredible work they do every day,” Kieran McAnulty said.