Friday, February 23, 2024

Flooding and power cuts hit processors in North Island

Neal Wallace
Plants close as Cyclone Gabrielle rattles supply chains.
Staff can’t get to processing plants and tankers can’t get through as roads are closed.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Silver Fern Farms has closed its Dargaville and Pacific plants in the North Island due to flooding (waipuke) and electricity (hiko) disruption, and  Fonterra is unable to make milk pickups in many parts of areas hit hardest by Cyclone Gabrielle. 

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer said its Dargaville plant has flood damage, and processing is unlikely to resume until next week. The situation is being assessed daily.

An electricity outage and water damage have affected its Pacific site, and with no certainty when power will be restored, alternative generation options are being considered.

“Road closures are hampering our ability to safely get workers to and from all North Island processing sites, so reduced kills are planned for the next day or so,” Limmer said.

Alliance Group interim chief executive Willie Wiese said the co-operative has temporarily closed its Dannevirke and Levin plants today, Wednesday.

“Our priority is to maintain the safety of our people, transporters and animals,” said Wiese.

“We will review the situation to determine whether roads and conditions are safe to transport animals to plants tomorrow.”

Fonterra reports limited tanker access to farms north of Whangārei on the Coromandel Peninsula and Hawke’s Bay, north of Waipukurau.

Farm Source has closed stores in Northland, Taranaki and Paeroa. 

The wider supply chain is also impacted with rail, road, ports and container depot infrastructure closed across the North Island, limiting the ability of meat and dairy processors to move livestock and finished goods.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said there is little pressure on processing capacity at present, but 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.

Paul Phipps, Fonterra’s manager of national transport and logistics, said tanker access improved overnight and, although the situation is still challenging, they have been able to call at more farms in Northland.

Roading disruption still prevents tankers accessing some farms in the region.

On the Coromandel Peninsula, access is still severely restricted given the state of the roads. In Hawke’s Bay, Fonterra has been unable to collect from the majority of farms north of Waipukurau.

In addition to issues with milk collection, the pressure on the supply chain from the knock-on effects of closed ports and rail links 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, and 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.

People are also reading