Dairy

Costs are biting hard

By Country News

Dry conditions and elevated feed and water prices will continue to impact farmers in the Murray Dairy region for at least 12 to 18 months, according to Dairy Australia chair Jeff Odgers.

Currently more than 40 per cent of dairy farms are located in drought-affected regions, with more than 2000 dairy farms affected across the Murray Dairy region, east Gippsland, NSW and Queensland.

A dairy farmer himself, Mr Odgers said the dairy industry was facing tough conditions, and he was committed to supporting farmers to ready themselves to achieve the best possible outcomes in the next year.

‘‘The dairy industry is facing substantial challenges around feed supply and costs,’’ he said.

‘‘Typically, farmers will grow the bulk of their annual feed supply in spring, but for many dairy farmers, notably those along Australia’s east coast, it will be tough to achieve the growth required and farmers will need to consider feed purchases to address the gap.

‘‘Our major concern is that we have seen rising feed costs heavily impacting farmers’ cash flow and access to feed, particularly fibre, is becoming much harder.’’

Mr Odgers said as dairy farmers tried to hold core herd numbers together, they were more exposed to the inflated feed costs being seen across Australia.

‘‘It’s vital to continue to plan ahead to secure sufficient fibre, to set ourselves up for the year ahead,’’ he said.

In the Murray Dairy region, where dairy is underpinned by access to irrigation water, prices for water have been elevated on the temporary market, trading at more than $300/Ml.

Due to the demand for fodder from drought-affected regions, hay prices have more than doubled since January, costing farmers up to $425/tonne (excluding GST), while grain prices in the region have increased more than 60 per cent since January to $420/tonne.

Murray Dairy is delivering localised support through a range of activities, with a focus on planning through the coming months to make the most of available feed, and providing functions to help farmers stay connected

‘‘We’ve proven we’re resilient and we need to continue to support one another, and keep perspective of the industry’s future,’’ Mr Odgers said.

■For more information, visit: dairyaustralia.com.au/feedshortage