I am deeply saddened by today's announcement that Silver Fern Farms is proposing to close its Fairton plant.
I extend my sympathy to all affected employees and their families. I know the next few days and weeks will be difficult for you.
As a community, we need to be even more vigilant about caring for our neighbours. We also need to look out for people who are struggling with the repercussions of this proposed closure and may need extra support.
Silver Fern Farms has assured me that there are processes in place to help the 370 people who will potentially be affected, should the decision be taken to close. I understand a number of positions will be available at Silver Fern Farm plants within the wider region and that other people will be provided training for alternative employment. I have also been advised that assistance is being provided by agencies in the interim.
Our district has been through tough times in the past and as a community we have rallied to support one another: this is no different.
Overall, the conversion of many of our farms from sheep to dairy has increased employment in our district. On the downside, the reduced need for sheep meat processing has taken its toll on plants like Silver Fern Farms, Fairton. I hope that if people lose their jobs at Fairton and live in the Ashburton district, they will be able to remain here. Ashburton district has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and is always in need of skilled labour.
If anyone is in need of more staff at the moment, please make sure you let Work and Income know, so that we can do as much as possible to support the Silver Fern Farm workers and their families.