Dairy farmers in Australia issue a warning while the mass exodus continues



June 26, 2019 15:46:20

Jason Smith, breeder of fifth-generation dairy cows, is used to early starts and late nights, to cold fingers, to sick animals and to the constant threat of being covered with cow dung.

Key points:

  • In 1980 there were 22,000 dairies in Australia and today there are less than 6,000
  • The share of Australia in the global dairy market has fallen from 16% of the years & 90 to about 6% last year
  • Australian milk production is expected to decline by up to 9% this year

But nothing prepared him for how difficult it was to stay afloat in the dairy industry.

"4:00 in the morning they run very fast when you finish at 22:00, and you think to yourself, & # 39; I don't want to get up because I know I will lose more money today," said Smith at 7.30.

The former Young Farmer of the Year by Victoria & # 39; s South-West used to encourage children to consider a career in the dairy, but it no longer does.

"Of course, there are good times … but difficult times are bloody," he said.

"And it is very difficult to tell a 14-year-old child, look them in the eye and say: & # 39; Don't have your office job, come and treat this garbage".

The combination of skyrocketing prices and water costs, inconsistent milk prices and drought conditions have put pressure on farmers across the country.

Even those who enjoy good rains and green pastures – like Mr. Smith – feel the pressure of drought elsewhere because it increases feed costs everywhere.

He has already had to cut down the cows this season and says that if things do not improve, he will have to cut his herd further.

"Sometimes when an account has to be paid, you have to close your eyes and put some animals on the truck you didn't want to put on the truck," he said at 7.30am.

"We have an attachment to these animals, we breed them for generations and every selection decision is hard.

"It's heartbreaking, it really is."

The loss of milk leads to job losses

In 1980 there were 22,000 dairies in Australia. Now there are less than 6,000.

The share of Australia in the global dairy trade has fallen from 16% in the 90s to only 6% last year, and the country's milk production is expected to decline to 9% this year.

This drop in milk production has been blamed for closing down the dairy giant Fonterra's factory in Dennington, southwest Victoria.

Damien Noonan is one of a hundred workers who will lose their jobs in November.

"My grandfather worked there in the 40's, then my father worked there and my mom worked there for a few months," he said at 7.30am.

"Then my brother in the years 80 and another brother in the years 90, and I not long after, and it has just been passed down through the generations.

"And it was just our tradition and it's the end of an era, it's pretty sad."

At 52, Noonan worries about his future job prospects and the impact of closure on the city.

"It's turning a city into a ghost town now because it's kind of a lifeblood," he said.

"Basically it is taking away one of the major focal points of the city, so I don't know what (the future) will be held, it is a bit worrying indeed."

In a statement, Fonterra said at 7:30 am that the Dennington factory was aging, underutilized and did not meet customer needs.

"The unfortunate reality is that the site is not profitable in an environment with low availability of milk and we must remove excess capacity," reads the statement.

The company stated that it considered all the options for the site, including the sale.

"However, without a genuine interest in the site as a whole, the most responsible option is to close."

Dairy Plan was created to meet the challenges of the industry

The former Victorian premier John Brumby was tasked with drawing up a plan for the Australian dairy.

The dairy plan organizes seminars with farmers across the country to find a way forward and try to talk to the united government.

Mr. Brumby said that Australians need to talk about dairy products.

"There really is no regional industry that has such a strong impact in Australia as a dairy product," he said at 7.30am.

"There are 40,000 direct jobs, 100,000 indirect jobs, without a dairy we will not have prosperous regional economies".

He said complex responses were needed due to the complex problems facing the industry.

"There is a silver bullet, there is no magic bullet that is suddenly going to repair this area.

"It will make a carefully put together plan to carry forward the industry, but, you know, the alternative for our regional economies and for Australia is not worth contemplating."

But the appointment of Mr. Brumby was not welcomed by everyone.

Lyndy Morris, a dairy farmer who also works for charity on the Aussie Helpers farm, said at 7:30 am that many farmers had little confidence in Mr Brumby.

"I don't think it's the right man for the job, I hope it surprises me," he said.

Ms. Morris said that many farmers are also concerned about the dairy plan because it is partially funded by Dairy Australia.

Recently, the research and marketing body devoted itself to hot water by paying $ 300,000 in bonuses to its outgoing CEO and installing a $ 10,000 coffee machine at its Melbourne headquarters while farmers have to face unprecedented financial pressures.

"I think we were disappointed with our flagship bodies," Mrs. Morris said.

"Every month you have to pay (Dairy Australia) a withdrawal, you have no choice, and if they went to visit 50% of the farms that paid the bills, I think they would have had a very different picture of what was happening on the ground."

In a statement at 7.30am, Dairy Australia rejected this request.

"We have been very active in the last year and have responded with new important services to farmers," the statement reads.

"This includes revoking the profile of our feed price reporting and farm support provided through our regional development programs."

The research and marketing body has also indicated some positive signals for the dairy in its most recent Situation and Outlook report, including a 3.2% increase in global demand for dairy products and a strong domestic consumption of dairy products.

A spokesman for Dairy Australia also stated that the expensive coffee machine was suggested by the staff to better stimulate collaboration within the organization.

& # 39; Never seen an exodus like this & # 39;

Mr. Smith has an open mind about the dairy plan because he believes something needs to change to save the industry in Australia.

"We need a fair price for our current product, we need the government to help further our export potential to Asia and other countries," he said.

"We also need the general company to value our product and pay a fair price for the hard work we do."

He said that if nothing had changed, there would have been no dairy industry in a few years.

"If you look at the numbers of households lost in our industry over the last 18 months and the next 12 months, you would never have seen an exodus of dairy producers like never before," he said.

"If something is not done now, you will not drink Australian milk, you simply will not."


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