Pollies get a message

By Dairy News

Second generation farmers Ian and Amy Mathers were able to tell Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack exactly how much pressure dairying is under when he visited Cohuna in March.

Mr McCormack spent time at their dairy farm and found out why they are winding up their dairy operation over the next few months.

Mr Mathers’ dairy business generated $1.5 million annually — 90 per cent of which returned to the local community.

“I am just one of 23 other farmers who have exited before me. It’s feasible to think $100 million will exit this shire before this ends,” Mr Mathers said.

Mr McCormack acknowledged the northern Victorian dairy industry was hurting.

He said the government had provided $7 billion in drought assistance and would continue to support the community.

The assurances did little to reassure the crowd.

Dairy farmer Stephen Brown said Mr McCormack danced the dance, but it meant little.

“There was no joy in the room today and they all live in la la land,” Mr Brown said.

Dairy farmer Harry Rowlands said the message he took from the day was to go home and get his affairs in order.

Cohuna’s David Elliot said it was disheartening to see what was happening to the community.

“I hate to see what is going on. The hardship and sheer frustration people are going through is terrible — they have just had enough,” Mr Elliot said.

“I hope something can be done but the reality is it’s so far out of control I don’t think they know how to stop it.”

Event organiser and industry lobbyist Andrew Gibbs from Primary Partners organised the visit.

He acknowledged it was good Mr McCormack spent five hours in the town.

“The decision-makers need to know what is going on. From October to March, 15 300 milking cows have left the shire (they would have produced enough milk for 396 000 homes for a year), no-one is being held to account and if we continue to do nothing, nothing will get done,” Mr Gibbs said.

Continuing dry conditions and soaring temporary water prices are placing increased pressure on the farming community.