Business as usual at Katandra West

By Geoff Adams

While panic buying has created some temporary milk shortages in retail outlets, the cows are still coming into the dairy at Laurie and Gayle Clark's Katandra West farm.

The couple milks about 540 cows on the 250 ha home block, with the assistance of four staff.

This month the Clarks are concentrating on autumn calving, managing the feeding and care of young calves and introducing new milking cows into the 48-stand rotary dairy. Over-sowing of pasture to ensure there is enough feed in the months ahead, is also a priority.

The coronavirus outbreak has not interfered with their operations.

Social distancing is not a problem with so much room; one farmer joked with Country News last week that he had been practising ``social isolation” for 20 years on the farm.

The Clarks shake their heads in disbelief at the some of the behaviour that has been seen among people who are panic buying, but they can also understand that people are anxious when told by the government they may need to be in self-imposed isolation for two weeks.

“I don't think 80 per cent of Australia would have enough food in the pantry for a fortnight,” Mr Clark said.

“But hopefully the panic will settle down.

“From an industry perspective there is an abundance of supply in Australia to meet demand. If the domestic supply ran short, production could move from export back to domestic, if there was an attractive price.”

Mrs Clark said now was the time to reflect on food security as a nation and for people to think about what they were buying in supermarkets.

“Is it Australian owned and made in Australia?

“What do we want from Australian farmers?”