Farmer closes gates to dairy industry

03 Nov, 2017 02:30 PM
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END OF AN ERA: Veresdale farmer Wally Holcombe had been in dairy farming for almost 40 years before making the difficult decision to leave the industry. Photo: Jocelyn Garcia
END OF AN ERA: Veresdale farmer Wally Holcombe had been in dairy farming for almost 40 years before making the difficult decision to leave the industry. Photo: Jocelyn Garcia

VERESDALE farmer Wally Holcombe has closed his farm gates to the dairy industry and has spoken out on a lack of support for dairy farmers.

Mr Holcombe, whose family had been in dairy for 64 years, said he had grown tired of unrealistic milk demands, the fight against $1 per litre milk and a lack of support from government.

“The industry in the 1980s and 1990s was really good to me and they were certainly the best years we’d had here,” he said.

“Milk was in demand and we had a lot of supporting industries that were doing well.

“Since deregulation, costs kept going up and (milk) prices kept going down.”

He said he was told by the company to which he supplied milk that he had to supply as much milk as Victorian farmers, which was difficult to achieve in Queensland’s humid climate.

He said an end to $1 per litre milk would improve the dairy farming industry.

“If the price went up by 10 cents for our average supply, we’d be back in business,” he said. “We’d be able to employ people and maintain our farm and equipment.”

Mr Holcombe said had the Sustainable Queensland Dairy Production (Fair Milk Price Logos) Bill, examined by the Agricultural and Environmental Committee, been passed earlier this year it would have helped dairy farmers gain a better return.

Scenic Rim incumbent Jon Krause, LNP, echoed Mr Holcombe’s concerns and said he was a long-time critic of $1 per litre milk and encouraged the purchase of branded milk. “I think (we) all agree the biggest issue here is that dairy farmers need an increase in the price they are paid by the processors,” he said.

Mr Krause said the ‘fair price’ logo was not a bad idea but the bill would have done nothing to address the issue.

“Local brands like 4Real or Maleny Dairies already market their product as supporting local farmers,” he said.

“There is no reason why the industry – farmers, processors, retailers – cannot implement a similar mark or logo, without complicating the matter by getting the government involved in the design of the whole thing.”

Mr Krause said the scheme would have been voluntary under the Bill, and could still be implemented by the industry without legislation.

QCL

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