11 Aug 2015

Sharemilkers 'going to be hit first'

7:51 am on 11 August 2015

The Waikato Rural Support Trust is receiving more calls every week as farmers come under increasing financial pressure.

Dairy companies have been slashing their forecast payouts in recent weeks.

The country's second largest processor, Open Country, has brought its price below the $4 range while Fonterra last week cut its price to $3.85 with a dividend range of 40 to 50 cents a share.

A number of dairy farmers face increased debt levels and are looking to cut costs and reduce production.

And industry leaders have raised concerns about sharemilkers.

Waikato Rural Support Trust chairman Neil Bateup said sharemilkers were increasingly asking for support and guidance.

"Probably over the last couple of weeks taken about five calls a week, compared to probably four to five calls a month in the time leading up to that.

"The majority of the calls are from sharemilkers, both lower order and 50:50, and they're probably the ones that are going to be hit first, so those are the ones I worry about."

Mr Bateup said the dairy sector needed to find ways to support sharemilkers, especially those who were young, but he believed it was inevitable some would end up leaving the industry.

"Unfortunately I believe we will lose some out of the industry, but I hope that we can support them and that farm owners can support them and the industry to actually come through - because they're the future of the dairy industry."

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