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Drought still felt on NZ farms

Last Summers’ drought is being felt keenly by meat processors this Spring, as fewer animals are going through plants as a result of a larger cull, earlier than usual.

Beef and Lamb NZ’s annual stock survey is showing a drop in lambs born this season of about 8 and a half percent on last year, down below 24 and a half million head.

The North Island was hit particularly hard, with a fall of around 3 percent in total sheep numbers, and Beef and Lamb’s Chief Economist Andrew Burtt says the flow-on effects will be felt this processing season by exporters in particular.

Cattle numbers are also down on last season due to the drought, 1.3 percent nationally, led by a 2.5 percent drop in the North Island.

Mr Burtt says the falls in stock numbers is likely to result in higher returns for our lamb exports, predicting a nearly 10 percent increase in average values.

“There’s vigorous competition in New Zealand, so any change will be felt keenly by all exporters.

“Our key markets overseas are also going through turbulent times, so it’s even harder to predict what will happen to prices long term.”

Mr Burtt says the increase in average returns will boost export receipts, despite the lower numbers coming through processing plants.

-Image: Beef + Lamb NZ

-Drew Chappell, Weatherwatch and CountryTV

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