November 10, 2008
Expansion of New Zealand's dairy industry


The expansion of the New Zealand (NZ) dairy herd since the early nineties has resulted in significant land use changes.


Since 1990-91 pastoral land for sheep and beef production has been declining and is expected to have fallen by 29 percent or 3.6 million hectares, by 2012-13. Of this fall, 845,000 hectares (23 percent) will have been switched to dairy production (to 2.18 million hectares in 2012-13) and the remaining 2.7 million hectares will be lost to other land uses such as forestry, conservation, urban encroachment, viticulture and horticulture.


As a result of these land use changes and persistent drought conditions in 2008, export lamb slaughter in 2008-09 is expected to decline 23 percent on-year, to 20.3 million head, with some recovery expected in 2009-10.


Similarly, export sheep slaughter is forecast to fall 42 percent in 2008-09, to 3.6 million head, while export cattle slaughter is forecast to ease 6 percent, to 2.05 million head.


Meat and Wool New Zealand attributes 60 percent of the decline in export livestock slaughter in 2008-09 to the 2008 drought, with 40 percent due to the expansion of the dairy industry.

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