Last month there was an announcement from the Government on the “next steps” of their cyclone recovery package. Like many growers I was very underwhelmed with what they presented.
It’s noteworthy that at the request of The Government, The Hawke’s Bay Grower Taskforce (which I am part of), prepared a comprehensive assessment of the cyclone’s impact and presented this to Government in April. This report included a business case to articulate the support required, and what the economic and social risks would be if this was not forthcoming. Sadly, what was announced on 29th June is well short of what is required.
I was particularly disappointed there weren’t additional grants alongside the various “loan schemes” that were announced. I do however note that since the announcement there have been further discussions with Government, and they have assured us, they are coming back with a revised structure that will be more workable for our industry. We anticipate additional clarity at the All-Hort meeting this coming Friday in Havelock North.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to express my support for the industry leaders who have been representing growers in discussions with Government. I know they have been doing their utmost to get us the best possible outcome.
As we look ahead, there will be some tough financial and business decisions to make. HBFA is mindful that there will likely be a need for growers to source external advice to help them engage with their banks and access the different government packages on offer. We are currently exploring how we can support this process and hope to make some announcements in this space over the coming weeks.
On the topic of funding, I’m pleased to learn that some growers are now receiving payouts from The Sediment & Debris Fund. I also note that the deadline to apply to this fund has been extended through to the end of August, which will give more time for those who are still working through the application process.
In more positive news, we are now only a few weeks away from our annual Young Fruit Grower Competition, which will this year be staged over the 10th and 11th of August. This is an outstanding event, and if you haven’t yet purchased your tickets to the awards dinner then get in soon as they are selling out fast.