Canty farmers plan drought aid

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 11/03/2013

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Canterbury farmers could be the saviours of their drought-stricken North Island counterparts if a deal to fast-track large feed shipments is brokered.

Federated Farmers representatives will meet today to discuss plans to transport Canterbury straw to areas desperate for livestock feed.

Drought has been declared in Northland, South Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Coromandel and Hawke's Bay, and Manawatu and Rangitikei have asked the Government to make the dry official in their regions too.

Mid-Canterbury Grain & Seed chairman David Clark said high-quality straw was available now Canterbury's harvest was finished.

"The feeling amongst Canterbury farmers is there's been no demand for straw so most of it's been chopped or burnt, whereas our North Island friends are crying out for feed."

However, sending feed north efficiently would not be easy.

"It is just simply not possible to shift it all by the traditional method of backloading trucks because of the sheer quantities that are involved," Mr Clark said.

"We're going to be working on that detail very early this week and scoping what is possible."

The issue was "a matter of urgency" and he hoped plans would be finalised by the end of the week.

"We're talking about a freight task that would take many months that needs to be done in weeks. It may not necessarily be any cheaper what we come up with, but it might get it there on time."

Clark said it could become the largest inter-island feed shipment since Canterbury's 1992 snowstorm and local farmers were "well aware . . . we're helping to return the favour".

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- The Press

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