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Hawke's Bay farmer buries silage in order to feed stock amid drought-stricken conditions

Economists are warning there could be a double-blow for regional economies dealing with the fallout of Covid-19 and the ongoing drought-devastated areas like Hawke's Bay.

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With temperatures now dropping it's too late for grass growth and farmers are having to spend thousands on supplement feed. Source: 1 NEWS

With temperatures now dropping it has become too late for grass growth and farmers are having to spend thousands on supplement feed, with the flow-on effects potentially hitting small towns hard.

Hawke’s Bay farmer Simon Beamish has four pits of silage buried underground gone due to this year's drought.

“My father he convinced me to put grass underground, when you have a surplus, a true surplus, is like having money in the bank,” he said.

But it’s still not enough even for his typically grass-fed stock - their feed topped up with supplement like fermented apple waste."

“We will spend $150,000 of extra feed over and above our silage and that’s just what it’s going to cost to get these animals through,” Mr Beamish told 1 NEWS.

A recent survey of over 170 farms in the region shows 60 per cent have pasture in poor or very poor condition.

Hawke's Bay Rural Support Trust is distributing donated feed.

“There wouldn’t be a farm in Hawkes Bay that wouldn’t be acutely aware of the need to have supplement either on hand or in the pipeline coming into the next week or four,” David Todd of Rural Support Trust said.

“There's a lot of uncertainty there and farmers will be really tightening their belts going forwards - that means delaying any capital projects or any expenditure on farm that they can do so that flows through to our rural communities in roles for electricians and plumbers and fencers and the like,” ANZ rural economist Susan Kilsby said.

While optimistic, both Fonterra and Beef and Lamb New Zealand say the impact on product prices is unclear.

“It’s very hard to know what is going to look like at the moment - there is a lot of uncertainty,” Andrew Burtt, Beef and Lamb NZ's chief economist, said.

“We're seeing more uncertainity than ever while people around the world are still going to have to consume food, they don't necessarily have to consume higher-value food products so we are seeing some real downward turn in pricing in general across most products,” Ms Kilsby said.