Share of relief fund not confirmed

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meets Ashburton District Mayor Neil Brown at a visit to the SH1 Ashburton river bridge.

It is not yet known how much Ashburton District will receive from the additional $4 million relief fund offered by government last week.

But Ashburton District mayor Neil Brown has sought confirmation from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, that if more funding was needed, it would be there.

Ms Ardern was back in Mid Canterbury last week for her second visit since the flooding. She met Mr Brown at the Ashburton River bridge and took a second visit to the property of Chris and Ann-Marie Allen, one of many farms in the district hit by flood damage.

Mr Brown also spoke to the prime minister about the cost of repairing the damaged road and bridge networks, and stressed the importance of a second urban bridge over the Ashburton River to relieve pressure on the current State Highway One bridge.

He also made sure to mention the funding gap to make the project a reality.

The additional funding for flood-affected Canterbury farmers was announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during her Ashburton visit.

Ms Ardern acknowledged Canterbury farmers were dealing with a massive recovery effort following the recent floods and faced significant costs not covered by insurance.

“It’s clear that extra funding is needed to relieve pressure on farmers who have also been battling drought,” Ms Ardern said.

Industries (MPI) director of Rural Communities and Farming Support Nick Story said MPI had been consulting with key industry groups, such as Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, and Deer Industry New Zealand about how the financial support could have the greatest impact.

“We all want this funding to help flood-affected farmers get back on their feet,” he said.

MPI is expected to announce further details on the funding distribution soon.

By Daniel Tobin