Dairy farmer gives up fight

Third generation dairy farmer Ray Gresham has called it quits after struggling with industry deregulation and more recently, the milk price wars between the two major supermarkets.
Third generation dairy farmer Ray Gresham has called it quits after struggling with industry deregulation and more recently, the milk price wars between the two major supermarkets. Craig Warhurst

ONE of the last and most prolific dairy farmers of our region, Ray Gresham, has called it quits following a lengthy battle to break even since the deregulation of the dairy industry more than a decade ago.

The drastic discounting by Coles and Woolworths was the final nail in the coffin for the fresh-milk producer, who had been struggling to meet rising operational costs against plummeting prices for his milk.

Half the herd was sold off yesterday as the third generation dairy farmer gave up the fight.

The Gresham dairy had been in a better position than most to survive the fallout from the dairy industry deregulation more than a decade ago. But despite increasing production to a point where the farm was producing more milk than ever to make up for falling prices, there was only so much a man could take.

"I just can't do it anymore," Mr Gresham, 40, said after loading 144 head of cattle on to trucks bound for a larger dairy farm operating under a more viable contract.

"It was bad enough last year, but it's getting worse.

"The latest round of pricing to come out is just ridiculous. There's no light at the end of the tunnel."

Mr Gresham said his exit from the dairy industry had reduced the number of dairy farms between Gympie and Kenilworth to nine from the original 155 farms.

THE Gresham's dairy farm is one of 40 across Queensland to fold since the supermarket milk price wars began more than 18 months ago.

As one of the state's youngest dairy farmers working a farm that had been in the family for three generations, Ray Gresham was considered a star performer by the Queensland Dairy Organisation (QDO).

QDO president Brian Tessmann said a long-time dairy farming family like the Gresham's should have had a secure future, but the dairy's demise was a classic example of how the industry had been crippled by the two major supermarket chains drastically reducing the value of milk.

"If these guys (the Gresham's) can't make a go of it in the position they were in, how can the remaining few?" he questioned.

"I think Coles should explain to dairy farmers' children why they won't have a farm in the future. Coles said its prices wouldn't impact on farmers, but the evidence is quite clear. The government needs to take heed of this and pay attention to the impact back at the farms.

"The domestic industry for milk in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia is clearly suffering.

"Large supermarkets are dominating the price and lowering the value of all milk and the money is not coming down (the supply chain) to the farmer. It's just not there to pass down.

Mr Tessmann said dairy farmers were united in their opposition against this issue and would keep fighting to get a fair outcome for as long as it took.

It's too late for Mr Gresham. He thought supply and demand would eventually balance out the impact from deregulation and continued working 100-hour weeks at a loss.

"To get up at 4am and work until dark to lose money. It was a business decision to close down. We can't keep going on losing hundreds of thousands of dollars each year."

Gympie Times

Topics:  dairy farm price war

Sinus problems call for persistence

Shaking off the lingering effects of a cold requires persistence.

Did you catch a cold in winter? Sinus problems call for persistence

Men of league hit the greens for community

Barry Hancock and Kev Embrey of the Fraser Coast at a recent Men of League Bowls Day.

Tweed to gather on Coolangatta greens.

Local Partners

Family's new arrival in face of tragedy

MEL Small had already gone into labour when she learned of the tragic fate of her sister Jodie Spears.

Barry Gibb is coming to Bluesfest 2017

FANS: Barry Gibb talks to a fan next to a cardboard cutout of his young self.

Aged 70, Gibb has re-launched his solo music career with a new album

Declan Kelly and the Rising Sun to shine bright at festival

Declan Kelly & The Rising Sun is one of the headlining acts at this year's festival.

Main stage set to pump with radiant reggae and dub vibes

Expert's talk on Olley's life is not to be missed

THE ARTIST: Artist Margaret Olley at the Tweed Regional Art Gallery in 2006.

RARE insight into the life of one of most cherished hoarders

Top floor teams take out The Block's terrace week

Kim and Chris pictured on their winning outdoor terrace in a scene from The Block.

RIVALS Kim and Chris and Julia and Sasha tie in final week of work.

Rick Price to play the basement

BACK: Rick Price plays The Arts Centre Gold Coast on November 3.

Returning to the Gold Coast

Bob Dylan slammed as 'arrogant' for Nobel silence

Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan.

Singer the controversial winner of literature Nobel

Shannen Doherty reveals fear of dying in post on chemo

Actor Shannen Doherty shared this image of her lying in a hospital bed after a chemotherapy session.

Actor has been fighting cancer since 2015

Eddie Redmayne's stage fright on latest Harry Potter film

Actor Eddie Redmayne stars in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Actor felt like kid again when he got to film with a wand

Salma Hayek: 'Trump planted story because I turned him down'

Actor Salma Hayek is the latest woman who says U.S presidential nominee Donald Trump acted inappropriately.

Salma Hayek latest woman to accuse Trump of misconduct

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

Dusit Thani finance crisis 'just a small hiccup'

ON TRACK: Springfield Land Chairman, Maha Sinnathamby, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, Developer Richard Turner and Springfield Land Deputy Chairman, Bob Sharpless, at the recent resort sod turning ceremony.

Property developer says project remains firmly on track

Heavyweight enters real estate market

Des Besanko principal and director of Raine and Horne Springfield.

Major rebranding which has seen two big name brands merge