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.’’
A local driver took the sign ‘‘drive through’’ a bit too seriously on Monday night when he crashed into the Cricketers Arms Hotel bottle shop at Mooroopna about 8pm.
In a tight tense affair, the Yarrawonga Pigeons have defeated the Wodonga Bulldogs by 28 points at the JC Lowe Oval in Yarrawonga.
Tatura Community House held its annual High Tea fundraiser at the facility on Tuesday, with a full-house present to enjoy a sumptuous morning tea, good conversation and relaxing time together.
Sam Lowndes might have been the youngest member of the North-Eastern Knights under 13 hockey side, but he still made a big impact at the Junior State Hockey Championships in Melbourne last week.
Rochester Historical and Pioneer Society hosted an afternoon tea to recognise long-standing members Barrie and Flora Griffin and John and Margaret Harley.
Last quarter saves potential calamity
Seymour Lions score a close win against Echuca
Scores of local farmers and concerned community groups will travel to Barham today to protest the Murray Darling Basin Plan in front of key Senators and Members of Parliament.
A planning scheme amendment to allow the expansion and redevelopment of the IGA supermarket at Heathcote has been approved by the Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne.
Last week work began on dismantling the historic Cobram Saleyards, marking the end of an era.
An exciting three-hole playoff saw Virginia Lange take a narrow win in the Deniliquin Ladies Golf Championship last Thursday.
The second annual National Herd Development Victorian Winter Fair was in action at the Bendigo Exhibition Centre last Wednesday and Thursday.
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