Northern Victoria Farmer Relief Drive facilitator Jenni Clark said the milk price crisis was an event that hit her — and the industry — hard.
As a dairy farmer herself, Ms Clark found the difficulty of accessing practical and readily available assistance was making a bad situation worse.
While the nation tried to rally behind the industry, buying name brand milk and shirking $1/litre milk, Ms Clark and a team of volunteers set about sourcing donations to help her fellow dairy farmers.
Deliveries of groceries, food hampers, hay and other donations were little wins that were gravely needed by an industry that had been hit with devastating news.
Although now months down the track, Ms Clark said a widely-held belief that farmers might not be suffering as badly now as they were last year, was just not true.
‘‘A lot have had to delve into their credit cards, they’re still short on cash,’’ she said.
‘‘Giving them the hampers is just the little bit of extra help to pay something up.
‘‘We still get a couple of new ones (needing help) each month; (but) it’s not as hectic as it was.’’
For some the financial and emotional strain of the milk price crisis was too much, and hundreds left the dairy industry.
‘‘There’s guys we were helping at the start and they’ve actually closed up shop,’’ Ms Clark said.
‘‘The crisis is still there. It’s definitely still there.
‘‘A lot of people just don’t like asking for help … We’re there if people need us — we’re trying to provide that cushion.’’
Figures from the North East Rural Financial Counselling Service Victoria annual report reveal that hundreds of dairy farmers approached the group for help in the wake of the milk price crisis.
Assistance offered to dairy farmers rose by 155 per cent on the previous year, with the number of clients assisted reaching more than 460.
Dairy regions in Campaspe Shire and Moira Shire were hardest hit with more than 120 clients from each council area seeking advice and assistance from the service.