Two years since the milk price crash sent shockwaves through the dairy industry, dairy farmers continue to carry the pain — financial and emotional — of the decision.
The April 26 decision of milk processor Murray Goulburn Co-operative to retroactively slash prices from $5.60/kg to $4.75/kg-$5/kg left many dairy farmers finding their positions changed overnight.
For Murray Goulburn supplier Greg Anderson from Yarroweyah, despite going into the price crash with some financial breathing room, the effects hit hard.
‘‘We kind of hit a wall cash flow-wise and haven’t done things around the farm we should have like repairs and maintenance,’’ Mr Anderson said.
‘‘It’s been hellishly difficult because it’s gone on for so long.’’
Fonterra announced just eight days later it would follow Murray Goulburn’s lead, and slashed prices by 60¢/kg to $5/kg.
It was a pill Ballendella dairy farmers Marshal and Suzie Jacobs found hard to swallow.
‘‘Murray Goulburn did what they had to do, Fonterra did what they wanted to do,’’ Mr Jacobs said.
‘‘We never thought Fonterra would do that. We were just gobsmacked, gutted,’’ Mrs Jacobs added.
Before Fonterra had announced its decision to follow Murray Goulburn, Mr Jacobs said the couple ‘‘saw the writing on the wall’’ and had resigned themselves to the reality they would have to sell off their herd.
By the time the decision was made, their cattle had lost $200 a head in value.
‘‘We just had to stop the bleed, stop the bills coming in,’’ Mrs Jacobs said.
In the two years since the crash the first generation farmers have been able to recover somewhat.
After selling off their herd, they now milk 72 cows but say their passion for the industry ended with the milk price crash.
Mr Anderson believes the sale of Murray Goulburn to Saputo has provided a ‘‘good resolution’’ to the saga, albeit one he’d hoped would have come sooner.
By: Alana Christensen
Source: Country News