Hawke's Bay farmers say retailers are "making hay" at their expense by charging high prices for stock feed desperately needed this winter.
Semi-retired Pakipaki farmer John Duncan believes retail giants Farmlands and PGG Wrightson are "clipping the ticket" and charging far more than what they pay growers for supplementary feed.
Mr Duncan, who farms 250 acres (101ha) of sheep, cattle, and deer, said growers were receiving between $280 and $300 for a tonne of maize and he was "really annoyed" at the bumped-up prices quoted by local retailers.
He had been quoted between $552 and more than $600 a tonne for bagged maize. "It's not a fair go and it's become a welfare issue as far as stock are concerned. It saddens me to think they are taking advantage of a bad situation - farmers are being ripped off," he said.
Mr Duncan said he had sourced bulk barley from Feilding at $320 a tonne, plus $16 a tonne freight.
Pelletised palm kernel sourced from Palmerston North was $340 a tonne (or $324 a tonne for bulk palm kernel), plus $16 to $20 a tonne cartage.
He felt "ripped off" by Farmlands over the recent purchase of half a tonne of Palabind granulated molasses, used to feed his cattle.
Because he only purchased half a tonne, 20 bags rather than 40, he was charged an extra $6 a bag.
Mr Duncan cautioned farmers to be wary and "shop around" for supplementary feed, as retailers were "not playing the game".
He was concerned about young farmers who had never experienced a drought, and felt retailers could do better in helping them deal with a difficult situation.
However, both Farmlands and PGG Wrightson rubbished claims that they were taking advantage of a bad situation.