Farmers wear cost of intense heatwave

SCORCHING temperatures and high humidity have inflicted massive losses for the region's dairy farmers.

Harrisville dairy farmer Paul Roderick's cows are producing 15-20% less milk than usual due to the recent heatwave.

Despite his best efforts to ease their stress, his 300 cows are losing up to 1000 litres a day and costing him thousands every week.

Dairy farmer Paul Roderick talks about the price of milk in the Queensland market.
Dairy farmer Paul Roderick talks about the price of milk in the Queensland market. Inga Williams

"The heat costs us about $500-$600 a day in lost production," he said.

"It also brings challenges in cow health and quality of the milk so we may not get as much per litre."

"It's an unwelcome challenge for a lot of people. Weather is part of farming but this is severe."

 

Dairy cows on Paul Roderick's Harrisville farm.
Dairy cows on Paul Roderick's Harrisville farm. Inga Williams

Mr Roderick uses sprinklers and shade to protect his cows from the heat, but it's not enough and without more profit he can't do more.

"Humidity really effects cows because they don't sweat," he said.

"We want to do more, get more fans and feed additives to help cows cope but all those things have cost."

Dairy Farmers Milk Co-operative chairman and Scenic Rim dairy farmer Duncan McInnes said he hadn't seen such loss due to the heat for more than five years.

"It's been an extraordinarily hot summer, especially over the last couple of weeks," he said.

"Whether it's dairy or beef, cows aren't producing milk or fat in this weather.

"Milk prices are the same as last year but grain is cheaper which is providing some relief to dairy farmers."

 

Duncan McInnes' farm has also suffered.
Duncan McInnes' farm has also suffered.

With the way the industry operates now, dairy farmers' financial losses won't be passed onto consumers, they will come out of farmers' pockets.

Mr Roderick said losses due to the heat simply added to the financial challenges faced by struggling dairy farmers.

"We don't have any seasonality to our price on a retail level," he said.

"We have a flat retail price which doesn't reflect the true production cost normally let alone during the hard times.

"That's where it's difficult to recover in an imperfect system and we're seeing people leaving the industry."

He said while fruit and vegetables went up or down in price with supply and demand, milk remained stagnant.

According to the third generation dairy farmer nothing had changed since milk prices were thrust into the spotlight in the middle of last year.

"None of the problems or issues we faced have gone away," he said.

"I know why supermarkets do it but it doesn't make it right.

"There is genuine empathy from the consumer. Our main message to people is still to pay about $1.50 per litre, a reasonable price, to help the dairy industry

"At the end of the day the changes need to come from a supermarket and government level."

Brands to buy:

  • Pauls
  • Dairy farmers
  • Norco
  • Maleny dairies
  • Scenic Rim 4Real Milk
  • Mooloo Mountain Milk
  • Bega
  • Bulla
  • Pura


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