By RNZ

Farming groups have set up advice and support for farmers facing shortages of stock feed as they head into winter.

The Ministry for Primary Industries worked with the groups on the initiative which includes a feed budgeting service and farm systems advice.

Federated Farmers said drought, the cancellation of traditional stock sale forums and reduced processing capacity at meat works meant many farmers were carrying more stock than they anticipated going into winter.

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This was putting a huge strain on already stretched feed resources and farmer morale.

Mark Harris from Beef and Lamb said in the first instance the service would provide farmers a free assessment of their feed planning needs by their relevant industry or levy organisation.

From there they could have access to an advisor who could discuss management options and avenues for practical support.

Farmers who require more in-depth support would be referred to a farm systems consultant, but there would be cost to this service, Mr Harris said.

A feed budget could help farmers consolidate their thinking and make a plan for the weeks and months ahead taking into account various scenarios, he said.

"This is a service that the government along with farmer organisations can provide to farmers who may struggle to do one on their own, particularly given this time of stress and uncertainty."

As well as crunching the numbers, they will act as a sounding board and offer practical advice and support decision making, he said.

The service will be available until June 30 and then be reviewed.

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Toll-free numbers to access the services are:
Dry stock sector - Beef + Lamb New Zealand: 0800BEEFLAMB (0800 233 352).

Dairy sector - DairyNZ: 0800 4 DairyNZ (0800 4 3247969).

AgFirst: 0508 AGFIRST (0508 243 477).