‘Plan for everything’

By Rodney Woods

Planning for as many scenarios as possible was the takeaway message from Murray Dairy’s Seasonal Update at Numurkah on July 23.

About 30 farmers and industry representatives were in attendance to hear from ThinkAgri’s Kate Burke, Goulburn-Murray Water’s Guy Ortlipp and Phil Shannon, from Shannon Farm Consulting, on hay and grain markets, seasonal outlooks for storages and farm business consultancy tips.

Ms Burke said with dry conditions forecast and most areas on the eastern seaboard coming off a dry year, feed stocks were going to be hard to find.

‘‘Last year was a serious drought year for most of eastern and south-eastern Australia, which was up there with ’06 and ’02,’’ Ms Burke said.

‘‘Obviously, that affects carrying stocks of fodder.

‘‘But here’s the good news, it’s likely we’ll have more production in theory than last year.

‘‘At this stage that’s what it looks like.’’

Mr Ortlipp spoke about the seasonal determinations and said the reason for the Campaspe system being at 31 per cent compared to the Murray at six per cent and the Goulburn at eight per cent, was reserves from last season.

‘‘It did open up last season at 100 per cent, which in effect means that any resource improvement we got last season was set aside for this season, hence its healthier opening position,’’ he said.

With a lack of water and feed an issue, Mr Shannon explained what a farmer’s biggest risk this season would be.

‘‘Cows produce milk, which exposes you to the milk price, and cows expose you to the feed market. If I buy one more cow, or milk one more cow, I’ll need six or seven tonnes (more feed),’’ he said.

‘‘One of the biggest decisions you’ll make as a farmer is cow numbers.’’