Invasive 'CNG' weed has potential to wipe out New Zealand sheep sector at a cost of $3 billion

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An invasive weed spreading across parts of New Zealand has farmers worried the country's entire sheep sector could be wiped out, at a potential cost of $3 billion.

Farmers are demanding action so Chilean needle grass doesn't become a billion dollar problem.
Source: 1 NEWS

Chilean Needle Grass has grown in New Zealand for decades, but farmers are now calling on the government to take fast action to stop its accelerating spread.

Commonly referred to as CNG, the weed drills into a sheep's fleece, skin and then muscle, causing pain to the animal and greatly reducing their export value.

Farmer Tim Struthers has spent more than $100,000 ridding his Seddon property of the pest.

"I've seen stock, freshly shawn, go through a needle grass area and it's stuck through, into the pelt, into the meat and within 10 minutes. So it's nasty stuff," Mr Struthers said.

The grass is now established in three eastern areas of the country, with the potential to spread to 15 million hectares and also affect vineyards and tourism.

Those affected want the government to intervene but the Ministry for Primary Industries says it already invests significantly in CNG management.

"We've invested $370,000 to date in four separate projects focused on education and CNG management through the Sustainable Farming Fund," a statement from MPI said.

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