Lean times predicted for farming sector

NEW ZEALAND - Retailers in rural centres could be in for a lean period, with estimates that half the nation's farmers will fail to make a profit this year.
calendar icon 19 February 2007
clock icon 1 minute read
Other farmers are expected to prune their spending on the back of flat product prices to safeguard profits.

Meat and Wool New Zealand's Economic Service has warned that spending on big-ticket items such as fertiliser, repairs and maintenance is slowing as farmers try to improve profitability.

Waikato dairy consultant Peter Floyd warned that 70 per cent of dairy farmers would make a loss this year. For some, it would be the second loss in consecutive years, due to flat returns and high-cost, production-driven farming systems.

Otago-based farm finance sources estimate 50 per cent of southern sheep and dairy farmers will make a financial loss or just break even. Those aiming for a profit have slashed spending.

Federated Farmers said spending would impact on communities reliant on farming.

"Most New Zealand sheep farmers are not making a profit at present, and all the economic and anecdotal evidence points to one thing - sheep farmers have stopped spending until returns improve," said Keith Kelly, the chairman of the organisation's meat and fibre producers council.

Lamb has been hit hard by an export-unfriendly exchange rate and price resistance from key European markets. Since the start of this season, lamb prices have fallen $15 a head, and meat exporters are warning prices could fall further once the lucrative European Easter markets are stocked.

Source: The New Zealand Herald
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