Farm Ireland

Monday 19 February 2018

50m litres of milk dumped after gas leak

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

New Zealand dairy farmers were forced to dump up to 50m litres of milk last week after a leak in a major gas pipeline in the Taranaki region led to the closure of 15 of Fonterra's processing plants in the North Island.

Processing plants in the Bay of Plenty, Northland and the Waikato were shut down for between one and two days due to the leak, which was blamed on an earthquake. The cost to farmers is put at close to NZ$30m.

The Maui pipeline is one of the main gas supply arteries in the North Island and is the primary source of power for Fonterra's drying plants in the region.

The disruption to the processing plants could not have come at a worse time for local dairy farmers as milk supplies are at peak levels.

Affected farmers were forced to dump milk into effluent ponds, while others spread it on paddocks.

Meanwhile, good weather this spring and strong grass growth has pushed milk production in New Zealand to unprecedented levels. A lot of herds are reported to be averaging milk solids of more than 2kg/day.

With milk production in the country as a whole running at 10-13pc ahead of normal levels, getting milk collected is proving a challenge for processors.

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