June 4, 2014


Feed an issue as drought takes toll in New Zealand



Farmers in the northern part of New Zealand's largest region, Canterbury, have expressed fears they're facing a tough year ahead because of the drought.


"It is not a great time for farmers in North Canterbury, most of us are facing a year of little to no feed, low stocking rates and substantial financial losses," said Dan Hodgen, Federated Farmers of New Zealand's Meat & Fibre chair.


He added: "With the drought leaving us with a significant lack of grass and crop growth, we are either having to sell capital stock at a much lower rate than we usually would or having to buy in supplementary feed. Some farmers are doing both.


"While there has been a good supply of grain available due to arable farmers not being impacted by the drought to the same extent, farming is so intermixed that the fortunes of one sector cannot be divorced from others. So with lower pay-outs for dairy and sheep and beef farmers it has affected our ability to buy their grain.


"Sheep and beef and arable farmers who winter-graze dairy cattle are also taking a big hit as winter crops are not what they should be, meaning they can't carry as many cattle this year."


Cameron Henderson, North Canterbury Dairy chair said that while dairy farmers were in a better situation than sheep and beef farmers, "we have to go further afield for grazing support, which comes at a cost. With the dairy payout continually dropping, the pressure is mounting in North Canterbury."


He said sheep and beef farmers north of Amberley and south of Kaikoura were expecting extra costs to be "in the six figures."


"This is going to be a huge loss for farmers to try and build back from. With lost production next season due to potentially lower lambing rates, and the costs of replacing capital stock when demand is likely to be high farmers need to plan ahead", Henderson said.

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