Farmers still see future in dairy in the north

Future for dairy in the north, but the look yet to unfold


Australian Dairyfarmer News
WATER: Irrigation water reforms are needed to ensure the future of the dairy industry in northern Victoria.

WATER: Irrigation water reforms are needed to ensure the future of the dairy industry in northern Victoria.

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Dairying in northern Victoria has a future, but work needs to be done on water in particular.

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Despite recent figures showing milk production in the northern part of Victoria continues to decline, there is still seen to be a future in dairy for the region.

Paul and Robyn Lindsay, along with their three sons James, Thomas and Nathan, operate a dairy enterprise at Picola, and have staked their confidence in the dairy industry in northern Victoria.

Paul Lindsay said he was confident in the future of the industry despite the "perfect storm" this season where water, grain and hay prices had been at extremely high levels.

He said the 2006 to 2010 seasons "threw it at us", but this year had been worse because feed and water prices were so high due to the widespread drought.

"There is nowhere to turn to ease the fodder pressure and water prices are off the scale," he said.

"Water policies need reviewing including carryover, market transparency and delivery share.

"As farms are sold off there won't be a farm in northern Victoria with a permanent allocation attached, and the hardest hit will be the new generation."

Mr Lindsay said policy needed to sway back towards the farmer - "at the moment it's not quite right".

The next generation would not have the option of buying a farm with a water entitlement.

"We are in it for the long-term, we're going forward definitely positive," he said.

"We have a plan to develop and that's our succession plan for our three boys."

Mr Lindsay said the tough state of the industry was difficult for the community and small businesses as well.

Long-time dairy farmer and water advocate for northern Victoria Daryl Hoey has had a change of scenery after selling his irrigated dairy farm at Katunga and buying a farm near Wonthaggi in South Gippsland.

Despite the move, Mr Hoey remains confident that there will always be a dairy industry in northern Victoria, "it's just a matter of what it will look like".

"There's too much capital tied up in factories for dairy not to continue," he said.

"Companies don't spend that sort of money on upgrades lightly.

"The competition for milk will be very hot in that region.

Read more:Milk production was down 10.6 per cent

"I won't be as involved in the water debate, but I still have a huge amount of knowledge and I'll be around to share that.

"I am a huge advocate of climate change and the impact that has on dairying in that region, we need to make sure we don't get poor policy from governments."

Mr Hoey said the Australian dairy industry had lost a lot of focus on what farming systems worked best in the region.

On his new farm he plans a tight, seasonal calving pattern.

"A tight calving pattern reduces cost of production, while a split or batch calving pattern drives the cost of production up," he said.

"I need to control what's inside the farm gate, I have to do what's right for my farm business and my family and this move will be good for my family and me."

He said he would remain involved in the delivery of research and development.

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