Milk dumped

JENNY KEOWN
Last updated 11:00 16/08/2011

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Just over 1700 dairy farms around the country face the grim prospect of dumping more milk today.

Farmers were forced to get rid of thousands of litres of milk yesterday as Fonterra's collection tankers could not get through because of the severe weather.

Fonterra officials were due to meet at 5am to see whether they could get their tankers out on the road as adverse weather conditions continued.

"The road conditions are treacherous and we want to make sure our staff are safe," a Fonterra spokesperson said.

Yesterday it had only a limited number of tankers out on the road, the spokesperson said.

Of the 10,500 Fonterra dairy farms in New Zealand, just over 1700 farms were affected yesterday. Sites were closed at Bridge St, Eltham, in south Taranaki, Stirling in Otago and the Canterbury Plains. Sites remained open at Clandeboye in Timaru and Edendale in Southland, but only with a skeleton staff.

Fonterra's sustainability teams were in contact with farms who needed to dispose of milk, and were liaising with regional councils.

Some options for disposal include irrigating the milk to land when conditions improve and selling it to local pig farmers for feed, the Fonterra spokesperson said.

Contract farmer Sidney Stewart, who works on a dairy farm near Mt Hutt, said 1000 litres of milk was not picked up by Fonterra's collection tankers. Fonterra had advised that the milk be fed to calves.

Mr Stewart said 19 calves were brought in yesterday, four of which died due to the harsh conditions.

Fonterra was unable to say how many litres of milk it had lost or whether it would compensate farmers for lost income.

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