Farmers face delays in getting stock to the works

Meat exports surged 10%, led by beef, which partially offset the November decline in dairy...
Photo by Thomas Bjorkan.
Farmers are facing delays in getting stock to the works as the brakes well and truly come off the cattle kill.

AgriHQ senior analyst Mel Croad said some farmers were having to wait three weeks before they can get a space.

"Delays are likely going to be a common theme this summer, just purely due to the shortage of meat workers, basically limiting how many cattle can be processed each week," Croad said.

"If farmers face delays it can put some pressure onto farming systems, fortunately, most areas have still got relatively good feed levels, although some regions are sort of a little bit drier than they'd like to be."

Delays were going to be an issue that continued to grow week on week right through to Christmas, she said.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said processors were reporting the pressure was building.

"Each processor will have their own processes in place so wait times will vary depending on the location, but we are getting reports throughout the industry that there is pressure in terms of farmers wanting to get their stock processed," Karapeeva said.

"Processors are struggling to keep up mostly because of the labour constraints, which is an issue across the primary industries."

Federated Farmers Meat and Wool chairperson William Beetham said processors had been upfront about the delays so farmers needed to ensure they were prepared.

"They've been communicating the delays for the last couple of weeks - personally I'm only hearing about minor delays due to staffing issues at plants," Beetham said.

"But it's a good reminder for farmers to be prepared and to think about if they do get delayed three weeks because a plant is at capacity what they would do - might pay to have three weeks of feed up their sleeves."

Having stock longer than planned could create a lot of stress and reduce productivity, Beetham said.

If farmers did find themselves in a tricky situation they should talk to their consultants, local rural support trust or processor, he said.

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