Crowdfunding is not going to save farmers

By Dairy News

IT IS a particularly frustrating not having a pool of money to raid to assist individual QDO members as they struggle with the financial burdens caused by this drought.

Every week QDO staff are on the phone to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and QRIDA to see whether more assistance can be given. Every week the answer is the same, so we understand why some farmers are just simply giving up.

The new Regional Investment Loans for Drought and Farm Investments launched on 1 July by the Federal Government will provide more low interest loan options. But given current conditions and increased costs for feed and fuel, a lot of dairy farmers can’t afford to even pay the interest on a loan.

So, it’s not surprising that some more social media minded farmers are looking for other ways to raise capital.

A farmer in Albion Park, NSW has gone on to social media to raise funds to help get him through the drought. Using the crowd funding platform, he has managed to raise over $250K in one week.

He’s is looking to raise $300 000 but intends to keep only a portion of this for himself. It’s a modest amount just to keep his cows fed and not unreasonable. This follows on from another NSW farmer who took to the media asking members of the public to ‘Adopt a Cow’ a few months ago.

There are well over 100 crowd funding pleas on that platform alone that relate to the plight of Australian farmers doing it tough due to drought conditions. While these two crowd funding campaigns have been modestly successful, there is no a guarantee it will work for every farmer in need.

The sentiment from the people who have got behind the crowd funded farmer demonstrates what QDO’s recent market research into consumer buying behavior is telling us — Australians want to help support our farmers but they don’t really know how. One supporter wrote, “if you can’t get decent gates prices because of greedy retailers, this is one way we can support you.”

While crowd funding can provide a quick injection of cash to a farm, it is not a long-term solution. The only way we can have a sustainable dairy industry is by getting a fair farm gate price.

The facts are clear. We have 386 registered dairies in Queensland and per farm we have an average milk production of around 1.1 million litres annually.

If our farmers got 10 cents more per litre that would give them on average $100 000 back per annum. Not just a one off, but a sustained cash flow.

QDO worked with the Office of Small Business on a campaign to ask customers to support local dairy brands. This campaign was launched at the EKKA.

However, it is the fair farm gate price logo project that can really have a long-term impact on the Queensland dairy industry.

This logo will be displayed on all dairy products that can demonstrate that they are truly supporting our industry by giving their farmers a fair farm gate price.

On pack it will provide Queensland consumers with a very simple way of determining which brands are doing the right thing.

• Matthew Trace is the Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation Vice President.