Meat processors have ceased operations at several North Island plants, and Fonterra is facing milk collection issues due to disruption from flooding and road damage.
Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said Cyclone Gabrielle and subsequent declarations of a state of civil emergency have meant the temporary closure of some meat processing plants due to staff not able to reach work and stock trucks being unable to access farms.
Fonterra reports severely limited tanker access to farms north of Whangārei and on the Coromandel Peninsula, and Farm Source has closed stores in Northland, Taranaki and Paeroa.
Karapeeva said while there is little pressure on processing capacity at present, that could change once the cyclone passes and farmers need to quit stock.
“We will be closely monitoring the situation, particularly when the weather improves and farmers have an opportunity to assess the damage to their farms,” she said.
Alliance Group interim chief executive Willie Wiese said the co-operative will temporarily close its Dannevirke and Levin plants from tomorrow.
“Our priority is to maintain the safety of our people, transporters and animals,” said Wiese.
“We will review the situation tomorrow to determine whether roads and conditions are safe to transport animals to plant on Thursday.”
Paul Phipps, Fonterra’s manager of national transport and logistics, said he expects farm access to also be an issue in other regions.
In addition to issues with milk collection, one of the biggest challenges is pressure on the supply chain from the knock-on effects of closed ports and rail links, he said.
This is putting a squeeze on what is already a highly strained national network.
Farm Source group director Anne Douglas said at this stage stores in other regions are open. They continue to monitor the situation.
“Our local teams have been proactively reaching out to farmers to check in on them, and we are working closely with local industry bodies and representatives to co-ordinate support on the ground where needed, as we always do when weather events like this affect our farmers,” she said.