Ministry of Primary Industries’ arable industry representative and cropping farmer Karen Williams. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
A year on from the region-wide ban on growing peas, many Wairarapa farmers who were forced to look at alternatives are struggling while they wait for government compensation.
It was announced earlier this year that farmers who were affected by the ban and had planted alternative crops would be paid an ‘ex-gratia’ for the losses incurred.
Since then, farmers have now harvested their alternative crops and filed claims based on the difference to their incomes.
There are 19 claims lodged with the Ministry of Primary Industry including 14 farmers and grower, and five from the wider industry including domestic gardens.
Farmers could be facing an estimated loss of $1000 to $2000 per hectare says Ministry of Primary Industries’ arable industry representative Karen Williams.
The Gladstone cropping farmer is also waiting for the government payout after her and her husband Michael were affected by the ban.
She had worked with MPI over the past year who were onboard with the ‘ex gratia’ payments for farmers, she said.
“We thought things might be happening a bit quicker, and the communication around it is frustrating. If they say they need this many weeks, people can budget . . . that’s the issue at the moment, we aren’t sure of the time frame.”
Growing peas was banned in July last year after the noxious pea weevil was found on several Wairarapa farms.
“Yes, we will take the hit with the regional growing ban but this needs to be balanced with a package of support for farmers,” she said.
She has organised a meeting this Thursday with a new MPI compensation claims team, Foundation for Arable Research, growers, rural bankers and accountants where she hopes the ministry will give a definite pay-out timeframe for farmers to work towards.
She was unaware of any farmers being paid out from MPI yet, she said.
For farmers to be eligible for compensation, they needed to prove they grew peas for up to two to three years. Then they had to show they planted an alternative or grazed livestock as a substitute, then needed to provide an estimate of profit loss of from the alternatives.
“This summer just gone was pretty miserable for growing crops, it was wet and not many sunshine hours, so the replacement crops could be quite poor.
“There are many variables, and as much as I want MPI to get on with it, there’s a lot of complexity around it,” she said.
MPI Pea Weevil response manager John Appleby said a new compensation claims team has been formed to process these claims.
“The processing time for each claim varies as they are all unique and are assessed on a case-by case-basis,” Mr Appleby said.
“The value of the claim may also influence the timeframe. However, MPI aims to assess claims as quickly as possible.”