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Clarification needed for dairy ‘boom time’

David Carter MP
National Party Agriculture Spokesman

14 December 2007

Clarification needed for dairy ‘boom time’

Media reports of boom times down on the farm fail to distinguish between the sheep farming and dairy sectors, says National’s Agriculture spokesman, David Carter.

“Certainly, dairy farmers are experiencing record world demand, which has led to the highest payouts we have ever seen. But it is a totally different story for sheep farmers.

“Sheep farmers have struggled for the past two seasons and this one is shaping up to be no better.

“World demand for lamb is suppressed, meaning returns are very low. On top of this, farmers face record interest rates as the Reserve Bank attempts to restrain inflation.

“Adding to the burden is the fact that sheep farmers on the east coast of both islands have had one of the driest Decembers on record and are now confronted with the very real prospect of a severe drought.

“I am particularly concerned for farmers who produce store lambs. With the rapid conversion of land to dairy, farmers who originally ran lamb-fattening enterprises are denying the store-lamb producers an opportunity to on-sell to them.

“Every farm that converts from sheep to dairy also places pressure on the processing industry which already suffers from over-capacity.

“It might be all milk and honey down on the dairy farm but it’s a different story for sheep farmers who are facing one of their bleakest summers in many years.”


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