21 Jan 2015

Demand drives up hay prices

1:54 pm on 21 January 2015

Farmers in extremely dry parts of the country say the price of hay has almost doubled.

Dry hills in the South Island (file photo)

Dry hills in the South Island (file photo) Photo: 123rf

Parched patches around the country are on the Government's radar, including south Canterbury, north Otago, Wairarapa, Hawke's Bay and pockets of Northland.

The Government said it was closely monitoring the conditions but had not moved to declare a state of drought yet.

Wairarapa dairy farmer Chris Engel said people in his area were coping because there had been no restricitons on irrigation yet, but those were expected shortly.

He said his latest problem was stock feed supplements, which were quickly running out.

"What's happening now is the supplement costs are going up because of supply and demand

and what we've been talking about is people have been putting silly prices on, but at $4.70 you don't can't buy it, so I don't know why they want to put it so high because we just aren't earning the $8 any more. I've heard hay was over $100 a bale, well you don't even consider that," he said.

An arable farmer in south Canterbury, Jeremy Talbot, said the region was already in drought and an urgent stock take of feed reserves needed to be done.

"You can go right through out the South Island there is no surplus feed any where in the South Island and even in North Island, where at one stage some years ago you'd consider trucking stock to the North Island I mean there's no surplus feed up there either."

Mr Talbot said he was concerned the authorities were underestimating the drought conditions.

"I would put it down partly to the fact that I believe both the MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries), and the minister along with the staff, are not old enough to remember what it was like going through the 80s and when these conditions have come before. There's still a few old wise heads around in Federated Farmers who have seen these things but a lot of the younger executives just don't recognise what the overall out come of this could be."

Jeremy Talbot said if the weather didn't change soon, farmers' mental health would suffer.

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