Wollondilly dairy farmer pleased milk production is on the rise

Country Valley Milk producer John Fairley is pleased that milk production is on the rise after months of drought. Picture: Chris Lane
Country Valley Milk producer John Fairley is pleased that milk production is on the rise after months of drought. Picture: Chris Lane

Milk production has increased for the first time in 18 months and Wollondilly dairy farmers are delighted.

Farmers across Macarthur have struggled through the 'worst drought in the region's history' with recent rains giving them a much-needed reprieve.

Country Valley Milk's John Fairley said the rain had helped to fill dams and feed stock.

"Milk production is up which is great but the cows still need to put some more weight on and expand their stomachs again because they lost so much weight during the drought," the Picton resident said.

"I am optimistic that we are getting through the worst of this - and I think it's important to be optimistic especially in these times.

"It will still take at least five years for us to be back to where we were before the drought.

"It will take some time for us to recover because most of us are in a lot of debt."

Mr Fairley said it was nice to see his dams full and paddocks green.

"It's nice to see the cows eating so much grass and just a bit of grain in the dairy," he said.

"The rain has made a huge difference to us farmers not just financially but mentally as well.

"We just have to hope that the drought doesn't start up again because in recent years the droughts have just gotten longer and harsher."

Dairy Australia's recent reports show that supply and demand of dairy products is yet to be impacted by the developing Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, although most dairy commodities prices have trended lower in recent weeks.

The report found that face-to-face trade and business development activities had been widely disrupted, as had shipping and distribution, while the effect on underlying demand was uncertain.

However, Mr Fairley said demand for products had dropped slightly as small businesses closed their doors.

"A lot of our Sydney customers are cafes and restaurants and they are obviously affected by these new rules," he said.

"But local demand through supermarkets and Pheasants Nest Produce seems to be up so we are hoping that will balance it out.

"We have two teams at the moment and we are hoping that if one team was unable to work, we have the other team available."

Dairy Australia's industry insights and analysis manager John Droppert said many farmers had been able to capitalise on favourable weather conditions and continued high farmgate prices.

"A recent recovery in national milk production, together with substantially more favourable weather conditions across many dairy regions have been positive developments at a time of strong local and global dairy market fundamentals," he said.

"These have come amid a tumultuous backdrop combining global disease with local drought and bushfires."

Mr Fairley encouraged residents to keep supporting local producers.

"Buy local, support local - we could all use all the help we could get to survive this virus," he said.

To find Country Valley Milk stockists, visit: www.countryvalley.com.au.