‘Big Dry’ starting to bite

Drought. Photo: iStock.The ‘Big Dry’, the worst drought for New Zealand in decades, is starting to bite in the North Island.

With little water around, farmers are sending stock to works early. In a lead item on TVNZ’s One News last night, viewers learned there’s pressure on the meat plants with Silver Fern Farms’ chief executive Keith Cooper advising they are 80 percent busier at the company’s Waikato plant than the same time last year. Farmers are having to wait up to three weeks in some cases to get their stock in. In the year-to-date, New Zealand’s cow slaughter numbers are up 122 percent, lambs 27 percent and mutton 20 percent, the latter causing concern for next season as breeding stock are going to works.

While there’s plenty of overtime for workers in the North Island presently, it’s also worrying for the 23,000 workers employed in the country’s meat plants as to what will happen with their jobs later in the season when there is fewer stock to slaughter. Experts warn retail prices for lamb may rise later in the season for New Zealand consumers. Watch …

It is expected that the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) will officially declare a further five North Island regions in drought later today.

MPI has an excellent information page for all things drought. Read more ….

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