Dairy update from the North.

While much of the focus throughout 2018 has been in South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales, Far North Queensland had a horror period. From the first week of July until mid-December last year there was very little rainfall recorded in our dairying area. This made fully paddock feeding our cows very difficult.

Fast forward to November, announcements that the price of grain, one of our main inputs, was to rise were put out.  Between November and early January, the price of grain rose between $120 and $200 per tonne. Whole cottonseed was contracted in early 2018 at $300-350/tonne, it is now $700/tonne at the gin plus freight, if any is available.  Once again drought is affecting the growing regions and making a smaller crop while drought is also affecting the regions that use the WCS as stock feed and increasing the required amount.

Even though the Far North Queensland dairy region was never drought declared, drought has had a direct effect on the price of our inputs.  The free market is not so free. 

The Far North has had a lot of rain early this year which has been fantastic.  In the last 35 days we have recorded rain on 34 days.  All areas have their own climatic issues.  Our region is currently trying to plant ryegrass for winter feed, but it has become too wet. We have had in excess of 1.8 metres of rain year to date. We aren’t complaining just stating how it is.

The sale, or not, of Lion continues. Farmers are keen to hear who the new owner is to be and what the future holds. The future of this region will be dependent on the amount of milk the new owners will require and the extent of farmer support they want. 

Far North Queensland is pretty much the only region in Australia that has too much milk but at the moment there is a shortage due to time of year climatic conditions. 

Our farmers just want to do what they are good at, produce milk and look after their cattle—they just want to make a profit out of doing it.

QDO State Councillor James Geraghty.