23 Apr 2014

Imported feed a risk committee hears

8:10 am on 23 April 2014

A select committee has heard that dairy farming is becoming increasingly risky as the industry pushes for more growth and more production.

Alison Dewes, an agricultural consultant from Waikato, told the Local Government and Environment Select Committee that the sector is facing headwinds - in the form of tougher environmental regulation, tighter lending restrictions, climate change and increasing costs of production.

She says as dairy farming has intensified, it's become increasingly reliant on imported feed.

Dr Dewes says 20 percent of all feed for the dairy sector is now imported and a lot of that is the controversial supplementary feed; palm kernel expeller.

"Around a 10th of our milk feed comes from palm kernel that's imported. It's not like we're a state of Australia where we can ring up the New South Wales guys and ask for grain.

"We're actually dependent on every shipment of palm kernel coming in now to feed our cows, and if we don't get it we're actually in quite a risky position."

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Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski