Letter from Jodie Hay, dairy farmer from Cohuna, Northern Victoria

 

My name is Jodie Hay and together with my husband Colin we operate a 400 cow dairy farm in Cohuna Northern Victoria. We probably haven’t met, but I’m one of the farmers who provides the milk and other dairy products in your fridge. I’m writing on behalf of many more farmers to ask you to help us by choosing Pura and Dairy Farmers milk when you next stock up.

Our milk processor partner – Lion Dairy & Drinks – has added 10 cents per litre to the wholesale price, with every cent going to the farmers providing the milk. We don’t like asking for help, but we do really need the support.

I was born on a dairy farm. Both sides of my family go back five generations as dairy farmers, dating all the way back to the early settlers of this area in the 1860s. I have one sister, and she’s also a dairy farmer! To say it’s in our blood would be an understatement.

Our farm has been in Colin’s family for 50 years and we’ve managed it for the past 25 years. We’re up at 5am for a cuppa; the first milking starts at 5.30am and we aim to finish the day by about 6pm. They’re long days, seven days a week, but it’s our life and it’s what we know. I’m an eternal optimist and we love what we do.

This season is proving to be our toughest one yet with continuing drought conditions, escalating water prices and an unprecedented fodder shortage. This perfect storm of conditions is taking its toll on us and our community

The main problem is the spiralling cost of water, grain and feed – things you need to keep your herd alive and productive. Grain and fodder has doubled in price, and our water bill has increased even more. Everyone knows those prices aren’t viable, but what can we do? We can’t back off on water, grain and feed, because we need to keep our herd alive. If we reduce our herd too much, production will suffer, and we’ll get caught in a vicious cycle.

“This season is proving to be our toughest one yet with continuing drought conditions, escalating water prices and an unprecedented fodder shortage. This perfect storm of conditions is taking its toll on us and our community.”

Despite the rising costs, even being able to source feed and water for our herd is getting difficult and we fear the worst may be yet to come. It’s a daunting prospect that most of the crops in South East Australia have failed this Spring, with no new crops likely for another 12 months. Prices will probably keep rising.

We’re seeing dairy farmers in our district exiting the industry, while others like us are being forced to dramatically downsize their herds. This is a huge problem as it will take years to rebuild herd numbers and those who have sold their entire herds face an uncertain future. Once you lose your potential to generate income it’s very difficult to recover.

There’s a fatigue and a financial and emotional toll that the whole community feels. Like most farmers, we provide a living for other workers on the farm, not to mention our immediate families. But the farm does so much more than that. We buy machinery, feed, power, and do all of our business locally. When a farm goes under it hurts a lot more people than just the farm owners – there’s a knock-on effect that impacts the whole town.

Please keep buying Dairy Farmers and Pura-branded milk. The extra money raised is managed by dairy farmers and goes back to dairy farmers – every cent of it. It also shows farmers that people know we’re doing it tough and are prepared to give us a hand to help us through. That means a lot to us. You start to wonder if people really care, but it’s been really nice to see the outpouring of support for drought relief – it gives you some heart.

Thanks for choosing Pura and Dairy Farmers milk. Your support really does make a big difference for farmers.

Jodie and Col Hay

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