SIXTY dairy farmers in drought declared areas of South East Queensland will get a share in $1 million raised after the price of two popular brands of milk was increased 10c a litre.
The funds were raised as a result of the Lion Dairy & Drinks’ Be True Blue Farmer Drought Fund, which was launched in October.
A total of $1m has now been raised after a temporary 10 cent-per-litre wholesale price increase for all Dairy Farmers and Pura 1L, 2L and 3L fresh white milk sold to participating retail outlets.
The cash will be distributed to drought-affected farmers who supply the milk either directly or through Dairy Farmers Milk Cooperative (DFMC) in South East Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria from next week.
The grassroots campaign was spearheaded by open letters to the public from dairy farmers, who told of their struggles during the drought.
Among those to get involved was fourth-generation dairy farmer Scott Brown, from Rayglen Farm, Upper Pinelands, near Toowoomba.
Mr Brown said the drought was the worst he had seen in 50 years, and his mother, who is 82, said it was the first time they had ever missed a winter crop.
”We had hay stored and I thought we had enough, but how much is enough for a drought like this?” he wrote.
“Has it been tough? Yes, it is full on. The drought has made things hard financially and you really have to watch the bills coming in.
“Fuel, rates, electricity; they’re the bills that have to be paid, and with less grass you have to buy 28 tonnes of dairy pellet a month to feed the cows.
“You need money for feed for the next couple of months too, as well as money to buy seed and fertiliser for next year’s crop.”
Despite the hardship, Mr Brown said it was a good life and that he had always enjoyed dairy farming.
“We’re dairy farmers through and through and we’ve raised our family here – Josh, Tammekka, Rachelle and Kristin – and it makes me proud that they talk of wanting to work on the farm one day.
“I do wonder if they’re going to be rewarded for that, but I tell them the opportunity’s here if they want to take it on.
“I asked my wife Dianne what we’d do if we didn’t milk cows, and she said it’s all we know. She’s absolutely right.
“The reward for us is producing quality milk that’s recognised and appreciated by people who buy Dairy Farmers, the brand that our milk supplies.”
Mr Brown said the public’s generosity and support in paying an extra 10 cents a litre gave hope that people out there were thinking of dairy farmers and were willing to lend a hand when times were tough.
In total, 60 dairy farmers in Queensland, 80 in NSW and 41 in Northern Victoria will get a share in the funds.
Funds will be distributed among suppliers in the drought-affected regions on a cents-per-litre basis.
For example, if the amount raised from the wholesale price increase in one state in a given month is $100,000, and the raw milk volume from suppliers in that state’s drought affected region is 5,000,000 litres in total, this will equate to a 2c per litre Lion Drought Assistance Payment to dairy suppliers in that region.
An advisory committee has been established to facilitate and oversee the payments to farmers in drought-affected areas.