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Sutton concerned about growing feed shortages

12 April 2001 Media Statement

Sutton concerned about growing feed shortages

The Minister of Agriculture, Hon Jim Sutton, shares the concerns of many farmers about the lateness of the rains to break the drought still affecting nearly all the South Island and the bottom half of the North Island. "Even with the anticipated rain over Easter, soil temperatures are dropping and there is little time for 'catch up' before winter," he said today.

"Farmers have managed the drought very well, and fortunately have been able to sell stock at satisfactory prices thus mitigating costly impacts this financial year."

Lack of feed now and anticipated feed shortages in the winter are likely to impact on next season's production. Supplementary feed prices have risen by at least 40% over the last two months as farmers make winter feed arrangements. It is likely that regardless of price there will not be enough supplementary feed on hand. Much supplementary feed has been fed out during the summer and autumn.

The Minister has urged farmers to take careful stock of their situation and advises them to have contingency plans in place.

"Some concern has been expressed to me in respect of the approximately 70 dairy cow herds moving from the North Island to the South Island this winter," Mr Sutton said. "These cows will be crossing the Cook Strait at the end of May and purchasing farmers cannot count on feed being available for purchase in the South Island. Fortunately most of these dairy conversions are by local people who appreciate how little grass grows during June and July in Southland."

"It is vitally important that we guard against any potential animal welfare problems, for the sake both of the animals and New Zealand’s international marketing reputation", Mr Sutton said.

ENDS

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