Falling demand may see an end to Federated Farmers drought-relief feed shipments from the South Island.
So far about 220,000 small bale equivalents from the South Island have been sent but with demand beginning to slow, Federated Farmers is concerned some farmers may be over-estimating pasture recovery following rain.
"Federated Farmers Grain & Seed can rightly be proud of the contribution our members have made in helping our North Island colleagues out," said David Clark, Federated Farmers Grain & Seed vice-chairman.
"With winter upon us demand for feed is slowing right up and we don't understand why.
"Unless we get uplift in demand - and soon - this operation will finish within weeks. We still have shipments to complete, but this will be done by mid-May and all of that straw is already committed to farmers.
"It means Federated Farmers will have shipped some 220,000 small bale equivalents and this has been in a word, massive.
"So if the need is there, we sure can carry on our operation for a bit longer, however, we need to hear from farmers within the next few days. If there are no more requests for feed then we will be pulling the pin on the operation."
Mr Clark thanked Hamburg Sud and Pacifica Shipping for their assistance, NZ Express Transport for packing the containers and the Ports of Lyttelton, Tauranga and Napier. He also thanked the transport and feed companies they had worked with.
"Without these companies and individuals, nothing would have happened," he said.
"As a farmer myself, I must express some concern that North Island farmers have more than their glasses half full. Anything germinating now is for spring and there is still winter to come.
"We are genuinely worried that farmers in drought-hit areas are over-estimating pasture recovery and underestimating winter."
This point was echoed by Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson, who said farmers need to focus on winter and not the first shoots of green appearing in pasture.
"Farmers need to ask themselves this question: Have I seriously got enough feed to ensure optimum stock condition in spring?
"I am encouraging all farmers to speak with farm advisers to ensure they have the right quantity and quality of feed on hand."