26 Jan 2015

Dry summer halves contractors' workloads

1:37 pm on 26 January 2015

Rural contractors in Canterbury are feeling the financial crunch of the increasingly dry conditions in the region, with the lack of rain making grass too dry to process.

The impact of dry conditions on unirrigated land, south of Timaru.

Photo: Supplied

It is estimated contractors across Canterbury could be losing about half their normal workload for January because grass is not growing and hay and silage cannot be made.

Rural Contractors New Zealand's Canterbury spokesperson Steve Murray said it was severely dry in the south of the region and contractors there were being hit hardest.

He said it was not too bad for contractors harvesting grain, or working on irrigated land, but non-irrigated land was too dry for any work.

"I'd normally run about two harvesting crews right through to the end of February doing silage and hay and baleage, and at the moment we're down to one full crew working, so it's cut back that by half," he said.

Rural Contractors New Zealand president Steve Levet said the weather was offering a mixed bag for other parts of the country.

In Northland, where he is based, he said the long-term forecast of cyclones would be welcomed for the rain they would bring - but preferably without the wind.

He said contractors in Waikato were enjoying good grass growth and have been busy since early spring but areas north of Matamata were beginning to dry out.

Mr Levet warned contractors, especially in Canterbury, to be careful and to talk to their farmer clients.

"Talk to your clientele, talk to your suppliers. If things are getting tough, seek help, talk about it with your rural support network," he said.

"Certainly I know through Federated Farmers there has been a higher rate of suicides among farmers than normal, so we do have to be careful.

"Rural contractors in many cases are farmers as well and we are very closely linked to the farming community - so whatever affects the farming community impacts on us greatly."

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