Fonterra battles to gain access to dairy farms following earthquake

New Zealand dairy processor Fonterra continues to battle to get its milk collection services back to normal, as 22 dairy farms in the Kaikoura region remain cut off from road access.

Milk collection services are back up and running for all operating farms in the earthquake damaged Culverden, Waiau and Amuri areas.

From last Wednesday all farms in North Canterbury had milk collected as usual. However, there are 22 farms in the Kaikoura area that remain cut off from road access and still need to dispose of milk, Fonterra’s Farm Source Chief Operating Officer Miles Hurrel said.

“While it’s incredibly disheartening for our farmers in Kaikoura to have to dispose of milk, those farmers and Fonterra are well insured so we don’t have a situation where there will be financial stress from missed collections,” he said.

Fonterra’s Farm Source and Emergency Response teams have been on the ground in Kaikoura to help with farm work and relief milking, according to Hurrel.

It’s really important to send teams in there to give our farmers a break, so they have time to spend with their families and deal with all the other disruption this has had on their lives.

Any Fonterra tanker access to the Kaikoura farms will depend on the capacity of the Emergency Access Road once it is opened.

“Unfortunately tanker access is out of our hands, but we are in close contact with all of the agencies working hard in very challenging circumstances to open a route into Kaikoura, and we are keeping our farmers up to date.”

The co-op continues to run a comprehensive support response out of its Farm Source store in Culverden on the country’s south island.

Farmers in the affected areas have rallied around one another during these difficult times, Hurrell said.

The strength and generosity we’ve seen from our farmers in the face of enormous stress is inspiring.

With the earthquake happening just over one week ago, farmers had offered generators, transport for animals and other resources to help the whole farming community pull through, he said.

“We’ve seen farmers working through the night to care for animals and help out their neighbours, so it was fantastic to be able to back up those efforts by having the majority of North Canterbury milk collection on track within 48 hours of the earthquake.”

Fonterra reported no major damage to any of its New Zealand sites, with national manufacturing operations running as usual since the earthquake.