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'We need feed' - Government's primary industry boost not what farmers hoped for

The Government’s primary industry boost is not what the industry hoped for following the impact of flooding, prolonged drought and Covid-19 on stock feed, a Federated Farmers official says.

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Covid-19 is the latest in a long line of setbacks for the industry, including flooding and drought. Source: Breakfast

Drought conditions more specifically have affected their ability to produce feed for stock.

John Blackwell is a sheep and beef farmer and is the president of the Northland chapter of Federated Farmers.

While money to train and grow the primary sector workforce came to $19 million in the Budget, Mr Blackwell says what farmers really need, especially in the North Island and Northland, is stock feed.

A total of $232 million was announced for the sector last week, with Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor saying this was "a significant investment which will grow and transform the primary sector".

However, Mr Blackwell said: “I think there was some money for consultants but I had one farmer ring me up… and she said we know what we need, we need feed, we need help, we’re in a dire strait.

"We haven’t grown enough feed this whole year to keep our animals up to what we’d expect them to be so our income has dropped dramatically.

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“We haven’t got anything. MPI has done a reasonable job here, we tried to import feed from Canterbury but that sort of fell through.”

Mr Blackwell says they can use palm kernel to feed their stocks but that got caught up in Covid-19 because of shipping. 

"We do need feed. This is the worst drought I’ve seen in 40-years. I think this is a real problem, particularly for Northland."

But many farmers will get by, just.

"A lot of farmers, like myself, haven’t got the same amount of stock so that’s how we’ll get through."

Breakdown of the $232 million the Government announced for the primary sector in the Budget:
$19.3 million to help attract and train recently unemployed people and grow the primary sector workforce by 10,000
$128 million for wilding pine and wallaby control, providing hundreds of jobs
$45.3m over four years to help horticulture seize opportunities for future growth
$14.9 million to reduce food waste by redirecting to people in need
$20.2 million to help rural and fishing communities recover from Covid-19
$5.4 million to identify and manage animal welfare issues