Beaudesert dairy farmer pulls plug

05 Feb, 2019 04:00 AM
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Rodney Teese says we may all be drinking UHT milk unless something is done to fix the dairy industry.
We decided last week that enough was enough. We can’t keep going backwards financially.
Rodney Teese says we may all be drinking UHT milk unless something is done to fix the dairy industry.

Queensland dairy farmer Rodney Teese says he can no longer cope with the state of the dairy industry and will not be producing milk for human consumption.

“We decided last week that enough was enough,” he said. “We can’t keep going backwards financially.

“It’s been eight years since the supermarkets brought in $1 a litre milk and we have been hurting every day since. It killed us.

“We used to milk 160 cows on this farm and produce 1.2 million litres of milk but now we have 105 cows.”

Mr Teese’s operation is located at Beaudesert, about an hour's drive southwest of Brisbane.

The district is traditional dairying, cropping and grazing country but much of it and the adjacent Logan to the east is being developed into a city that will be larger than Canberra over the next two decades.

Like many on the eastern seaboard, Beaudesert dairy farmers have been hit hard this spring and summer by hot and dry conditions.

The district has almost entirely missed out on spring and summer storms which traditionally carry it into the mid to late summer rain from lows.

Just on 60 per cent of Queensland is drought declared despite the far north registering rain in the metres as the monsoon deepens.

Mr Teese, who runs his farm with his father, Greg, said 60 of those cows would be leaving his farm last Friday with more to follow in coming weeks and some headed for the meat works.

“Dad bought this farm 46 years ago and he was willing to stick it out but in the end, I made the decision, and it’s the best decision for the family.

“Farmers are getting screwed over by the processors, processors have been screwed over by the supermarkets and the people in Canberra who think they run this country aren’t doing anything about it.

“I don’t know how they sleep at night. There’s a lot of farmers, not just dairy farmers, they lay in bed at night and they can’t sleep either.”

Mr Teese said the price of grain 18 months ago was about $220 per tonne and had since risen to about $480 a tonne.

He said the prolonged drought had just added to the misery, with the expected rainfall during the summer months being a no-show.

“On this farm here we had 1mm of rain for January, which is normally one of the wettest three months of the year," he said.

“By the middle of winter, we could run out of stock water so that was another reason for closing up.

“If you’d have asked me six months ago for a list of farms who might go under, our name would not have been on that list but here we are.”

Mr Teese said he would sell off about 26 hectares of his land to pay off the farm’s debts.

He said his plans for the future included finding a job off-farm but continuing with his breeding and supporting the Beaudesert Show.

“Consumers out there, please support the local dairy industry because we might be the first farm to close in 2019 in the Scenic Rim but we won’t be the last, that’s for sure,” he said.

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