Dear Coles....

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While many dairy farmers are frustrated and talking a lot about their issues with the grain prices due to the drought, it is good for us to get individual stories that go to the heart of the matter. This letter to Coles from the Darling Downs from Donna and Mark Fitch outlines the true costs to farms.

Thank you for your drought relief funds- however I would like to make a point that the Consumers are actually the ones receiving Charity - from the pockets of the Dairy Farmers who are trying to make ends meet-and in many cases are unable to.

We have milked for three generations- have invested into our business to meet market demands- our herd numbers and workload has doubled to ensure that we are able to remain viable in the face of an industry that is capped by the $1 litre milk.  We supply two million litres to Norco on the Darling Downs. 

As stated, we received $6200 from the Drought Relief fund, however we calculated that the added feed cost alone per month is $17 500 extra over that of a normal season.  With those figures, the 4 Million Dollars that Coles collected would support approximately 20 farms to break even for 12 months. Feed on the Darling Downs is becoming difficult to source with any reliability. Our summer silage is now looking like a complete failure, having been cooked off in the recent heatwave.

To add insult to the situation, we spent $50 000 in November on a new bore as our bores are running dry with stock water pumps running 24 hours to keep supply to our herd. This bore has now failed, and we have been forced to drill another bore totalling $90 000.

Given this information we are obviously looking to stop the business from haemorrhaging, having maintained a steady growth of production over the years and maintain supply to our consumers.

In summary, our only option will be to cease supply within the next 6 months if we cannot get the market to carry some of the burden of the cost of production. 

I ask that you please consider increasing the price of milk to the consumer to allow the money to return to the farmers who are desperately trying to survive this crippling drought.  I would welcome a visit to our property to discuss our request further.

Regards,

Donna and Mark Fitch - QDO Members