A dairy farmer decides it is time to exit the industry.SOPHIE BRUNS February 26, 2013 4:02am
The decision to place their dairy farm on the market has been a reluctant one for Phil and Tania McKenna.
Phil is the fourth generation of his family to be involved in agriculture but tough times, low milk prices and eroding equity have quite simply become too much.
‘‘Everyone I know is hurting, the mental pressure is just enormous; we are just burnt out,’’ Mr McKenna said.
‘‘Every farm is different and everyone’s situation is different, but it all comes back to one thing and that’s milk price.
‘‘This industry is in dire straits — we keep getting told to get more efficient and produce more milk but maybe it is the factories’ turn to get more efficient.’’
Mr McKenna said this season had been the last straw. Low milk prices and skyrocketing costs have taken their toll.
‘‘We have come to the conclusion that the way things are going and the current prices mean we are just chewing into our equity.
‘‘We can get out now and keep our run-off block and have some money left over and the decision to leave is still ours — I don’t ever want to be in the position where it’s not.’’
Mr McKenna is well aware the dairy industry is cyclic and he expects highs and lows, but there comes a point where you can’t continue to produce a commodity that costs you money year in year out.
‘‘We have had terrible season after terrible season in northern Victoria and we have spent all our money on feed.
‘‘We got through the drought and the floods; we survived the milk price drop in 2008 but that cost us $170
‘‘Where are the good years that will allow us to catch up? I wonder where the processors draw the line at efficient and whether it is more like financial abuse.’’
Mr McKenna said when the Exceptional Circumstances payments stopped things really started to tighten.
‘‘The EC kept food on the table and the interest rate subsidy allowed you to catch up each year. That needs to be put back in place again.’’
As a dairy farmer he said he didn’t expect to make millions of dollars each year.
‘‘All we want to do is to be able to pay our bills and live a decent lifestyle. We work hard day-in day-out and nobody minds that — but doing it all for nothing year-in year-out is a different story.
‘‘Communities start to suffer. Our local school at Nathalia used to have up over 200 students, and now it would be lucky to have 120.
‘‘People just leave. Local businesses are doing it tough too, no-one is spending because there is no money to spend.’’
Mr McKenna said during the drought the government announced $25
‘‘Farmers could do things like lasering, money was spent in communities — we need something like that again too.’’
A third of Mr McKenna’s farm has been modernised and is now under pipe and riser.
The system works well but the process he went through to get to that point was far from smooth.
In the end that block was out of action for 18 months while he dealt with red tape and different departments. He has also had to wear that cost as well.
‘‘The rules, in particular around water, are continually changing and you don’t know where you are.
‘‘We have just had enough of it all. I can’t see a future for my two sons — Nathan, 12 and Jason, 9 — so maybe it is just time to do something else.’’
Shepparton police are looking for Vikramjit Singh, who escaped Dhurringile Prison last night.
Yarrawonga Football Netball Club senior footballer Jeremy O’Brien celebrated his 200th senior Ovens and Murray Football Netball League game against the Wodonga Bulldogs on Saturday.
Following a concerted effort by Merrigum Community Group to upgrade signage in the town, it was announced at last Monday’s community meeting that design of a new information sign, to be located near the bus shelter in Waverley Ave, has been completed.
Echuca Special Olympics basketball team won a gold and silver medal at the Winter State Games.
Rochester resident John Constable has received the latest vision scanner available, thanks to Rochester Lions.
100 days at Tongala Primary.
It's not everyday you get 'most sincere thanks' from the Queen - as a Seymour girl found out.
St Joseph's Jerilderie teacher Steve Jones has released an album with his band, Steve Jones and The Velvet Glove.
The district has shivered during the past couple of weeks with night temperatures falling below zero. For those prepared to brave the winter chill, Lake Eppalock offers stunning scenery and yellow wattle brightens district forests.
Black Dog ride participants meet up in Cobram before they burn rubber to beat the blues.
Deniliquin woman Georgia Henderson calls on Member for Farrer Sussan Ley to come out in support of same-sex marriage.
Wheat crops sown at the end of April to mid-May were two to three weeks early, increasing the risk of frost damage, the Finley Discussion Group’s meetings earlier this month heard.
John 'Jack' Roe remembered as a gentleman; battle-scared but a genuine, dignified man of integrity.
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.