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Fed Farmers 'virtual farmy army' helpline offers assistance after earthquakes

Federated Farmers is assembling a "virtual farmy army" to support North Canterbury farmers hammered by this week's earthquakes.

A "farmy army" was put together following the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, and a "virtual" version is gathering momentum to help farmers in the rugged and spread out Marlborough, Hurunui and North Canterbury hinterland.

Since the launch of an 0800 line on Monday about 200 calls have been logged. The line aims to match those offering help with those who need it.

Federated Farmers Member Services team leader Miriam Bravenboer said offers have come in for accommodation, generators, money, willingness to take on cows for milking and manpower for urgent farming tasks.

A lines company that had trucks heading north asked if any farmers needed items transported.

"One person offered a year's worth of grazing for up to 1000 stock units for free. The person preferred that help to be for a young and struggling farming family but wasn't too worried if that wasn't the case.

"Someone else with access to six helicopters asked 'what do you need?'. And a Christchurch business that leases caravans is offering free delivery if farm accommodation was destroyed by the earthquakes," she said.

Help requested included somewhere to store deer velvet because a freezer unit had been knocked out, and someone else who needed drinking water.

Federated Farmers spokeswoman Katie Milne said farmers in need shouldn't feel they have to "battle tough odds on their own".

She said she was "delighted with the way other organisations are responding in a spirit of pulling together to get communities on the east coast of the South Island back up to speed".

Spark, Chorus, Vodafone and other telecommunications providers were working together to reinstate data and phone back-up links. Farmlands, FMG and New Zealand Post have all offered their assitance.

- NZ Herald

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