$3.9 million available for hillcountry farm projects

There’s $3.9 million worth of good news for eastern Taranaki hillcountry farmers.

That’s the amount of fresh funding for a well-established scheme assisting them to prevent erosion and diversify their businesses. This includes grants for forestry establishment and other land-use change, soil conservation planting, and fencing retired and reverting land.

“All the region’s hillcountry farmers are eligible for assistance under the scheme,” says Don Shearman, Land Services Manager for the Taranaki Regional Council, which administers South Taranaki and Regional Erosion Support Scheme (STRESS).

“The only precondition is they must have one of the Council’s farm plans – hundreds already do, and we’re keen to hear from others who are interested.” The Council works one-on-one with farmers to prepare the free plans, of which there are three types: comprehensive plans, agroforestry plans, and conservation plans.

STRESS was established in 2009 and is funded through the Ministry of Primary Industries Sustainable Land Management Hill Country Erosion Fund. The scheme had been allocated a total of $2.5 million up until this year, so the new $3.9 million injection for the next four years is a significant boost.

“It’s a great opportunity for our farmers and we want them to take full advantage of it,” says Don.

“It’s a win-win scenario: reducing erosion cuts the sediment load in our waterways, which is better for the environment and reduces the impact of flooding. And retiring marginal land may also improve the running of your farm and potentially improve financial returns with diversification into forestry or other more sustainable activities.”

For more information, email hillcountry@trc.govt.nz or call 0800 736 222 and ask for the hillcountry team, or talk to your TRC Land Management Officer if you already have a farm plan.

STRESS assistance details

Holders of TRC farm plans can apply for STRESS funding on Class 6 and 7 hill country for:

Forestry

  • Up to $2,000 per hectare for planting exotic forestry and $2,300 for manuka planting. Carbon credits are available for pinus radiata from day one of planting. NOTE: Commitment to forestry planting must be confirmed before 1 November to allow time for ordering.

Reversion fencing and forestry fencing

  • Up to $15 per metre for eight-wire post and four battens (or agreed alternative).

Retirement fencing for existing bush

  • Up to $9 per metre for eight-wire post and four battens (or agreed alternative).
  • $6.75 per metre for eight-wire post and four battens if QEII National Trust is also contributing funds.

Poplar and willow poles

  • $20 for 3-metre poplar or willow pole when planted with Dynex sleeve.
  • Free 1-metre shrub willow stakes.

For more information, email hillcountry@trc.govt.nz or call 0800 736 222 and ask for the hillcountry team, or talk to your TRC Land Management Officer if you already have a farm plan.