14 Mar 2013

Sharemilkers and farm owners told to talk

1:42 pm on 14 March 2013

Federated Farmers is urging sharemilkers and their farm owners to sit down now an agree to a management plan, as a number of disputes around the country are being brought to its attention.

The body's sharemilkers employers vice-chairperson, Tony Wilding, says the drought and lack of feed are forcing many dairy farmers to dry their cows off early.

He says in years when sharemilkers are leaving farms, the sharemilker and farm owners can have very different interests and good communication and mutually agreed management plans are the best way to avoid disputes.

Mr Wilding says it's important that sharemilkers keep their employers up to date with what's happening on the farm, such as if feed is running low, particularly when employers live elsewhere.

He says if that doesn't happen, employers could discover a shortage of feed when the sharemilker's contract ends and the dispute can end up in mediation.

Mr Wilding says the current situation is no ordinary drought and it can't be handled the way previous droughts have been.

South dries out

A drought committee has been set up on the South Island West Coast as conditions continue to rapidly dry out there.

Farmers, ministry, local body and other representaives will meet at 10am on Friday to consider whether the West Coast needs to join North Island regions in seeking a Government declaration officially recognising that the region is in drought.

West Coast rural support trust chair Dianne Milne says while the area has suffered dry spells before, no-one there can remember the whole region falling into drought.

She says rain forecast for the weekend won't bring immediate relief and a drought declaration will at least reassure West Coast farmers who have run out of water that they haven't been forgotten.