BARRY Paterson from Cohuna Car Sales said last financial year was the toughest year he has encountered.
‘‘Things have certainly been tough and while you don’t like to talk negative about the town there are now a few empty shops in the main street and nowhere near as many people out and about which is a reflection of the big picture I think,’’ Barry said.
Cohuna Car Sales was established in the 1980s and sells farm machinery, motorbikes and new and used cars.
Barry has been involved in the business for many years but has been running it for the last seven.
‘‘People only changed machinery over if they absolutely had to, otherwise it was fix and patch and spend as little amount of money as possible.’’
Barry said he has had three employees leave the business and only replaced one of them.
‘‘This is another reflection of the tough times, but with business on the quiet side we have been able to manage with fewer staff.’’
Like all businesses Barry is looking forward to things turning around.
‘‘When the dairy industry is good so is everything else in the town, it really does have a flow on affect and we looking forward to that happening soon.’’
■LIPPS Fertilisers services the agricultural industry from Shepparton to Pyramid Hill, Swan Hill and all towns in between.
They too have experienced a decline in business over the last year.
‘‘We are fortunate our business is diverse and we are not as exposed as some, but dairy still is a large part of it,’’ agronomist Matthew Gready said.
‘‘There has definitely been a reduction in volumes of fertiliser sold- people are just doing the very bare minimum to prune costs where they can. It has been challenging in terms of cash flow but we understand how tough things are.
‘‘Cropping is probably on a par with dairying with low commodity prices but the up side is things seem to be starting to turn around. Money seems to hit the back pocket of grain growers a little quicker than dairy but there are still plenty of challenges for both.’’
■FIVE Star Stockfeeds services clients throughout Victoria, NSW, South Australia and even Tasmania.
Director Col Symes said this has been the toughest year of trading for his company in his 20 year history.
‘‘We carried a lot of debt into 2016-17 because of the milk price drop and it has been tough for us all,’’ Col said.
‘‘Many dairy farmers were just caught off guard and were so traumatised by what happened that we had to be very careful with our approach when it came to collecting money and it has been a very difficult situation to manage our way through- some of our clients have significantly increased there arrears.
‘‘I have been in this industry for 20 years and this is worse than any drought or year when there was no water and grain prices of $450 a tonne – it was just so out of the blue and people were so unprepared.
‘‘The whole process has been handled badly by some of the milk companies which has in turn hit the industry really hard.
Col said while the industry has got a long way to go in terms of recovery, he said there does appear to be a bit more optimism around.
‘‘Some farmers are starting to think its worth fighting the fight but it certainly will take a while to get things back to normal.’’
Source: RIVERINE HERALD