NZ farmers face feed storage, but no drought

Farmers still have concerns over drought conditions as the region goes into what are traditionally its highest temperatures.

But Federated Farmers and the Rural Family Support Trust are not writing a further letter, seeking a drought to be declared in the region.

It is dry, but the weather is more unsettled now, said Ruth Rainey, former Federated Farmers president, and spokeswoman for the trust.

A recent drought committee meeting resolved to write in support of the letter to the Ministry of Agriculture, asking it to consider the area as one in drought.

"I have spoken to some of you plus MAF's Phil Journeaux and at this stage have decided just to leave our letter of request for drought declaration on the MAF table but not to write a further letter endorsing it."

MAF had said it would keep a watching brief in the region, acknowledging there was not a drought, but there is a feed shortage for all stock.

"There have been areas of rain about and the weather seems to be coming more unsettled with areas of patchy rain over last weekend," said Mrs Rainey.

"I don't feel comfortable continuing to ask for a drought declaration.

"We definitely still have a feed drought and need more rain, but the climate is one of the major challenges of farming and we just have to deal with the vagaries it throws up."

Her stance was supported by the farmers at the drought committee meeting.

Meanwhile a Hunterville Vets-run "Drown the Drought" field day in December is still relevant as farmers head into what are normally their hottest months, she said.

The field day encouraged farmers to look ahead so they could feed their breeding stock. "While short term, lamb prices are very strong and attractive, there needs to be consideration to the performance of breeding stock for next season," Mrs Rainey said.

That means ewes must be in good condition for tupping through to lambing to help recover the costs of a dry season. "Farmers should have a plan to achieve this.

"If supply and demand are driving the strong prices, then these prices should theoretically flow into next season given that the national ewe flock is declining in numbers."

There has been a consistent message hammered in the past few field days."Farmers must measure to know where they are and what is happening accurately.

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