The severe weather is causing issues for Nelson-Tasman and West Coast farmers, as a state of local emergency remains in place in both regions.
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Flooding in Golden Bay has left farms drenched but the provincial president of Federated Farmers says it will be several days before the true extent of any damage can be measured. Photo: Tasman District Council / Facebook

Hammering rain at the top of the South Island has left parts of Golden Bay cut off, with Takaka getting more than double its normal monthly rainfall in just a couple of days.

Golden Bay dairy farmer and the provincial president of Federated Farmers, Cherrie Chubb, said everything was drenched.

“Everything’s absolutely sodden,” Chubb said.

“We’ve got puddles, on puddles, on puddles, and there’s lots of surface flooding and some road closures that I’m aware of,” she said.

“Everything gets very difficult to manage on-farm in these conditions, you’re sort of scrambling around, trying to make the best decision at the time.

“Little things, like there’s a lot of the electric fences underwater, so everything’s sort of short circuited out, so the animals kind of figured out what areas didn’t have fences working.

“So even with your best intentions to try and leave them in one place, you don’t always find them in the same place you left them in the morning.”

Chubb said she had not heard of the rain causing any dramas on farms in the area, but farmers wouldn’t know how much damage the deluge had caused until the rain eased – which could be several days away.

Fonterra has suspended milk collection for parts of the Tasman today for safety reasons.

But Fonterra regional head for Tasman, Marlborough and Canterbury Charles Fergusson said he was confident collections should be running as usual by the weekend.

“What we did overnight was we stopped collecting in the majority of the Golden Bay area, and that was primarily a safety call,” he said.

“But on top of that we actually couldn’t get to farms – or some of our farms – and the Collingwood area because of road closures.”

Fergusson said the situation was changing by the hour, but Fonterra was in regular contact with its farmers in the region.

The deluge has also kept some Tasman orchardists off the job – Paul Thomas of Thomas Brothers Orchard, near Nelson, said the rain was putting them behind schedule.

“At the moment, it just means that we can’t get out onto the orchard to get jobs done.

“It’s been wet the entire winter, we’re getting behind.

“We’re not far off having to start our spraying, and we’re just not able to get down to the orchard, we haven’t been able to get people into the orchards to get the pruning done, so it just puts us further behind.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Civil Defence remained on alert ahead of high tide this afternoon.

Local farming leader Bede O’Connor said the Buller River did not burst its banks, but some farms had been damaged.

“Farms near the river were okay, however a number of farms where [there are] tributaries or creeks running through their farms, they were running bank-to-bank and they’ll probably have a repair bill fixing some of the protection work that they’ve done previously in February.”

O’Connor said the rain could not have come at a worse time, as farmers were incredibly busy with calving.

An 85-year-old inspiration, Margaret Thompson heads into Maleny Buffalo’s dairy every day to keep her late husband Mal’s legacy alive.

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