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Farmers Need To Know ‘They Are Not Alone’, Says DairyNZ

February 27, 2013

For immediate release

Farmers Need To Know ‘They Are Not Alone’, Says DairyNZ

Industry body DairyNZ is joining with other agencies and organisations to co-ordinate a range of drought support mechanisms for Northland and other North Island dairy farmers, with a focus on facilitating farmer-to-farmer advice.

A state of drought has been officially declared in Northland today by the Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy, with other regions likely to follow soon.

DairyNZ’s regional team manager, Craig McBeth, says dry conditions are being experienced throughout the North Island and the industry body has already been sending out weekly newsletters with practical advice to farmers. It is also using its local discussion groups to help farmers find out how others are dealing with the dry conditions.

“We are working with the Rural Support Trust, Federated Farmers, the Ministry for Primary Industries and the banking and rural professional sector to ensure farmers know there are people they can turn to. It’s important for farmers to know they are not alone,” he says.

“The best support can be talking to your neighbours and just hearing what others are doing. That’s what we’re trying to facilitate through our farmer networks. We’ll also be running some dry summer events to give more detailed advice and support. Farmers should contact their local DairyNZ consulting officers for updates on when and where these events will be held.”

Craig McBeth says farmers need to keep an eye on young stock as well as milking stock and their body weights and take action quickly. “What condition dairy cattle are in now will impact on how well they are able to make it through the winter and through calving later in the year. This can have long term impacts on a herd’s productivity.”

DairyNZ senior economist, Matthew Newman, says Northland milk production for the month of February 2013 is about 20 percent lower than February 2012. In the wider Waikato, production for the same month is about 15 percent down.

“Dairy farmers in Northland will have $13 million less income from milk produced in the month of February 2013 compared to the same month a year ago. About $8 million of this is from reduced milk production, while the remainder is from lower milk prices.

“Looking across the whole of the North Island, we estimate that just for February this year North Island farmers will receive $114 million less milk revenue than February 2012. The drought counts for a reduction of $64 million and lower milk prices for $50 million.

“This is based on a prediction of 15 percent lower milk collected this year compared to last year for the month of February across the North Island,” he says.

“The economic effects of that drop will ripple through rural communities. If it stays dry for another three or four weeks, and herds have to dry off early, then the medium term impacts will be a lot more dramatic.”

DairyNZ says its main advice to Northland and other dairy farmers experiencing dry conditions is to:

• Look after yourself and talk with other farmers in your area.
• Monitor and record your cow body condition. Make sure you know how to do this or get an expert to help.
• Focus on milking on with a core group of cows until it rains.
• Assess how you can destock.
• Have a plan around feed, financials, stock and communicate the plan to your team (family, staff, consultant, banker). Don’t be afraid to change to Plan B if things change.
• Manage young stock on and off the farm.
• Talk to your grazier.
• Attend a DairyNZ dry summer field day.
• Make the best use of your rural professionals.

“Information is the key to developing a response to the drought conditions and is available on the DairyNZ website (, from rural professionals and from experienced fellow farmers,” says DairyNZ’s Craig McBeth.

DairyNZ is the industry good organisation representing New Zealand’s dairy farmers. We are funded by a levy on milksolids and our purpose is to secure and enhance the profitability, sustainability and competitiveness of New Zealand dairy farming. Our work includes research and development to create practical on-farm tools, leading on-farm adoption of best practice farming, promoting careers in dairying and advocating for farmers with central and regional government. For more information, visit


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