Farmers in the south-west of New Zealand are “thrashed” after a new report found their farms are at risk of being lost to drought.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) has released its annual farming report for 2018 which found the average farm had an average of 7,500 head of cattle.
The report found it was a “dangerous” time to be a farmer in New Zealand, as the drought and snowfall could cause damage to the land.
In addition, there was a 70 per cent increase in the number of cattle being sold in 2018, which is a record for the industry.
The new report said the average annual return for dairy cows was 5,000 per year, which equated to an average income of $7,500.
It also found that the average return for cattle was $15,000, which was an increase of $200.
It said the loss of cattle would increase the risk of losing the milk industry, and could be a problem for farmers and ranchers across the country.NFU chief executive David O’Brien said the report showed “that farmers are being hit hard”.
“We are at the very end of a decade of hard times for dairy farming in New South Wales,” Mr O’Briensaid.
“Farmers are being hammered by the drought in the country, the cost of crop damage from drought, and the impact of climate change.”
He said farmers needed to be prepared for a “relentless onslaught” from drought in future.
“In 2019, our forecast for a record low dairy production is going to be the worst in our history, and our forecast to get worse over the next five years is a recipe for a disaster for dairy farmers in New England and in Canterbury.”
Mr O’Broin said the industry was in “shock and disbelief” at the report, but there was “no doubt” that the farming industry was “tough”.
“It’s just sad that a new industry is going through this,” he said.
“I am so heartbroken to see that the industry is facing this.”
The report said farmers had been left with the “highest risk” of losing their livelihood.
The number of dairy cattle in New New Zealand is estimated to be just over 7,000 head, which equals a cost of about $15 million a year.
The dairy industry was also hit by drought and the worst snowfall of the year in 2018.
The farm industry in New Britain had suffered a major hit by the loss to dairy herd.
The Northern Territory is also in drought, with the Northern Plains, where the report was based, suffering an increase in crop damage and a shortage of feed.
A New Zealand Government report released last week found the Northern Territory was “in the midst of an unprecedented drought”.
The report also said the Northern Sea and North Sea Basin had experienced the highest number of extreme cold days on record, and predicted that temperatures in the Northern and Southern Plains would continue to drop.