Will there be any dairy farmers left in Queensland in 10 years time? It’s a question we ponder as we milk our own cows. As retailers use milk as a loss leader to get people into store, farmers costs’ increase and the weather continues to change, the dairy industry is fast disappearing in Queensland.
The future seems grim. With no fresh milk produced locally, we could be forced to buy UHT milk that has been over-cooked and killed. Or perhaps we will develop a taste for powdered milk or even sweetened condensed milk.
How far afield will the milk have to come? Victoria, New Zealand or perhaps even China? Surely wherever the supermarket giants can get the cheapest commodity this week…
So what can we do to maintain a viable dairy industry in Queensland?
Our dairy-farmers need support, and the best way to help is to pay them a bit more for their milk. An extra 5 to 10c per litre doesn’t seem much but it makes all the difference to your farmer.
Why should bottled water be more expensive than milk?
These guys and girls get up before the crack of dawn every day, in all kinds of weather to milk their cows. Then they are back as the sun sets to milk yet again.
Our farmers are skilled managers; they have to be to survive in the current economic climate. They are skilled in animal husbandry, soil fertility, pasture maintenance and animal health. They have to be able to fence, to be mechanics, drive heavy machinery, plant, irrigate and harvest crops. Not to mention being able to help a cow having a difficult birth, rescue cattle stuck in bogs, and maintain their land for future generations.
And they get to do this seven days a week!
They have made a huge investment in their land and infrastructure and they deserve to make a reasonable living. Why should a supermarket chain keep the price of milk artificially low so that they can charge more for other things?
To make these changes possible, we will have to make changes within our business. We have begun to look at ways that we can save money in other areas and we have identified that it may be time to change our milk packaging. This change could help us save a lot of money, which would mean we could afford to pay our farmers more per litre for their milk!
Hopefully this will encourage some farmers to stay in the industry and perhaps other processors will also pay their farmers just that little bit more.
It makes all of the difference.