A young couple in south-west Victoria have just six weeks to find a new farm for their cows after their existing sharefarm was put on the market.
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Hannah and Blake Honeysett, with their daughter Grace, are on a desperate search for a dairy farm.(Supplied: Hannah Honeysett)

Key points:
The Honeysett family has just six weeks to find a sharefarm after being told the land they farm will be sold
They say if they can’t find a farm they will have to sell their cows
Blake Honeysett has worked towards owning his own herd for more than a decade

Hannah and Blake Honeysett have been sharefarming at Nirranda South on the Great Ocean Road for the past 15 months and built up their own herd of more than 50 cows.

Now they must find another sharefarming opportunity or the cows will be sold and they will have to find other work.

“We’ve had a pretty crappy week actually,” Ms Honeysett said.

“On Tuesday morning our farm owner knocked on the door, said he was selling the farm and said it was likely to be a quick sale because land prices have gone through the roof around here and people are looking for land.

“So we’ve got six weeks to find a new farm.”

Ms Honeysett said her husband had worked toward owning his own herd for more than a decade, and desperately wanted to stay in sharefarming.

“There are plenty of farm jobs going around due to labour shortages that have been made worse by the COVID pandemic, but our problem is we really want to hang onto our herd because we’ve put a lot of work into our milkers,” she said.

“Blake has an unwavering passion for dairy, he lives and breathes it, so it would be quite devastating if we had to exit the industry.”

Extreme highs, extreme lows

Ms Honeysett said it had been tough for the family to establish themselves as sharefarmers.

“We’re a start-up business. We’ve been sharefarming for about 15 months, so we need to keep the milk cheques coming to stay in the industry,” she said.

“The other issue facing people trying to start out in the industry is that banks are really strict on lending against cows, so we’ve been operating without an overdraft or any sort of financial assistance, and it’s been really tough.

“There are extreme highs and extreme lows in farming, and you’re just hanging in the balance. You can be going gangbusters one minute, and you can fall on your knees the next.”

With time running out to find a farm, Ms Honeysett said their sense of urgency was high.

“We’re looking to bring about 50 milkers to the party. We have a quad bike as well and some basic machinery, and we’re willing to fit in with whatever someone else needs,” she said.

Thirteen congressional members from New England are urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to intervene on behalf of farmers left in the lurch by Danone SA, the French food giant that owns the Horizon Organic brand.

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