Australian dairy farmers ‘slaughtering 700 cows a week’ – because the cost of producing one litre of milk is more than they are paid for
Struggling dairy farmers are being forced to send their cattle to ‘the choppers’ rather than be milked because they are being paid less than it costs to produce the milk.
The price of the raw product has plunged since May and farmers, many having to repay their co-operative sellers like Murray Goulburn and Frontera tens of thousands of dollars, have been drastically reducing stock by selling to abattoirs along with suffering serious mental health issues.
Dairy farmers are walking off the land because of price cuts that mean their milk is selling for less than the cost of making it.
Cuts announced earlier this year means that in many cases farmers will have to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars because their milk did not sell at the same high price it was bought by processors
Victoria is the state which has been hardest hit by the milk crisis sparked when industry giants slashed the raw milk price by up to 10 per cent.
At one sale yard alone up to 700 dairy cows are offered to abattoirs each week, according to a report to be aired on the ABC’s Four Corners on Monday.
Truckloads of cows are being taken to yards for a quick sale while some farmers are even forced to walk their small herds many kilometres to offload them.
Many farmers, locked into long-term contracts, are incurring heavy monthly debts after the ‘farm-gate prices’ dropped by up to 10 per cent earlier in the year.
South Australian farmer Lorraine Robertson was asked how much money she’d ‘received’ in the past four weeks.
It’s minus $16,000. That’s the debt to Fonterra. So I can’t leave, even if I did have somewhere else to go,’ she said.
Dairy farmers are walking off the land because of price cuts that mean their milk is selling for less than the cost of making it
NZ-based Fonterra was founded in 2001 and is the world’s largest dairy exporter and has 1200 Australian dairy farmers.
Murray Goulburn co-operative was formed in 1950 and is Australia’s biggest dairy producer with 2600 dairy farmers
The cuts they announced earlier this year means that in many cases farmers will have to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars because their milk did not sell at the same high price it was bought by processors.
Despite a $555 million rescue package announced by the federal government earlier this year, which some farmers claimed forced them to repay loans at almost double the 1.5 per cent rate the federal government would access the funds, many are selling up to avoid going to the wall.
With concerns over the stress and mental health of farming communities, $900,000 was set aside under the federal government’s package to establish nine new counsellors across Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Tasmania
And she fears that the price of raw milk will drop again next year.
Chloe Scott, 16, told Daily Mail Australia in May that she and her mother Melissa had been forced to move out of the family’s Boorcan home, leaving her father Brendan to work the property alone and deal with mounting costs.
But after 25 years the Scott dairy farm business in rural Victoria found the burden of increasing debts from its milk payment contract with co-operative Fonterra too much.