Gympie dairy rebuilds after floods

Gympie dairy rebuilds after floods


Dairy
Andrew Burnett, Sexton Dairy, Gympie, inspects flood damage on his property. <i>- Picture: ROD GREEN.</i>

Andrew Burnett, Sexton Dairy, Gympie, inspects flood damage on his property. - Picture: ROD GREEN.

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STOIC dairy producer Andrew Burnett is still feeling the impact of Cyclone Marcia after flood waters tore through his property two weeks ago.

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STOIC dairy producer Andrew Burnett is still feeling the impact of Cyclone Marcia after flood waters tore through his property two weeks ago.

Mr Burnett has been working tirelessly to fix more than two kilometres of fencing but said the 16.5 metre event was moderate compared to the 2013 floods and only one of seven in the past five years to affect his business.

"We're downstream from Gympie on the junction of the Wide Bay Creek and the Mary River," Mr Burnett said.

"It's a good place when it's dry, that's why we bought the farm back in 1995, but it's not when it's wet - we do go under water."

Living and working on the property with his wife Fiona and two young sons, Mr Burnett said there was little that could be done to prevent future flooding in the area.

"It's just the nature of the beast.

"The Bureau of Meteorology do a pretty good job, there were lots of warnings and the best thing I can use is accurate information."

Mr Burnett said the series of floods had forced him to evolve his operation with basic preparation measures put in place to prevent stock and machine loss.

"We're pretty well drilled now. All the pumps and cattle were up and any loose infrastructure like grain feeders, troughs were all up in the sheds - we've sort of built everything to be movable."

"We can take these events because they're short term but we can't handle our milk being sold for $1/L"

Mr Burnett said maintaining gauging stations along the river systems and a margin in his business would better prepare him to bounce back after any major loss.

"I need to have a margin to be able to invest in infrastructure, so we can take advantage of the good times, and then be able to bunker down for the bad times like floods and droughts.

"I think there's not enough money captured in the supply chain for it and farmers are at the end of the chain, so there lies a pretty big problem."

Mr Burnett acknowledged while the property had received ample rain, there were many other farmers still struggling.

"To read last week's Country Life, it actually makes me feel guilty that we've had all this rain and yes, we've had some flooding and it's a bit upsetting in the short term but a couple hours west, they're just struggling. If only I could give half of it away - it's just not fair."

Producing around 2.4 million litres per year, the Sexton Dairy producer said he could handle any drought or flood but his real battle was against $1 milk.

"We can take these events because they're short term but we can't handle our milk being sold for $1/L when it's safe and nutritious and it's been produced with all the kindness and soul that a dairy farmer puts into their product.

"I'll take a flood any day but $1 milk is killing me."

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