Kiwi dairy farmers told to tighten their belts
New Zealand dairy farmers are being advised to pay close attention to farm costs this season, according to industry body DairyNZ, in response to the reduced 2014/15 forecast milk price announced this week.
According to DairyNZ, Fonterra’s forecast milk price being reduced from $7 to $6 per kgMS means volatility is part of everyday life and dairy farmers will be conservative when making farm decisions this season.
DairyNZ economists estimate the reduced payout could cut national income by $1.8 billion this dairy season – an average per farm loss of about $150,000 (based on 2013/14 milk production).
DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says for many farmers, $6 per kgMS is a break-even payout, meaning little capital expenditure or principal payments will take place in 2014/15.
“While it is unclear where prices could be at the end of the season, volatility requires farmers to be prepared to react to changes quickly,” says Tim. “Now is obviously a good time to look at updating or developing a cashflow budget based on a $6 per kgMS milk price.
“Look at where the fat can be trimmed and where efficiency gains can be made, for instance growing and utilising more homegrown feed and looking at where supplementary feed can be reduced.”
Farmers should also look at what contingency plans are in place for a possible dry summer – perhaps early culling and once-a-day milking, rather than supplementary feed. And with large tax bills looming from last year’s record season, farmers should also contact their accountant to re-calculate their tax.