Farmer forced to move entire dairy says he’s one of the lucky ones as market booms

Share with us

Dairy farmers across south-west Victoria are struggling to maintain farm leases as landowners cash in on rural land prices and a booming industry.Key points:Farm property prices across Australia are increasing, leaving farmers in the lurch and locking out newcomersA Victorian farmer says leaseholders are being squeezed out amid high demandHe says the dairy needs to address the…

Farmer forced to move entire dairy says he’s one of the lucky ones as market booms
Share with us

Dairy farmers across south-west Victoria are struggling to maintain farm leases as landowners cash in on rural land prices and a booming industry.

Key points:

  • Farm property prices across Australia are increasing, leaving farmers in the lurch and locking out newcomers
  • A Victorian farmer says leaseholders are being squeezed out amid high demand
  • He says the dairy needs to address the issue or face problems in the future

Good seasonal conditions, solid demand and rising milk prices made the sector more profitable than it has been in previous years.

Jason Smith recently had to move down the road to Irrewillipe from the farm he was leasing in Simpson when his lease expired.

It was not an easy task.

“Farms are scarce as hen’s teeth,” he said. 

Calves in a shed.

Mr Smith was calving while he was trying to move farms.(ABC Rural: Jane McNaughton)

Cashing in on a good season

Mr Smith moved south in 2015 to continue his career in dairy after irrigation costs priced him out of the market in north-west Victoria.

“I leased a property in Simpson from a corporate landholder — it was his first agricultural investment and he was quiet happy to have someone lease it because it was a lot less effort on his part,” he said.

“I put in a calving shed, we fully renovated the dairy, put in an underpass. 

“I put in huge investments to help him better his property and then he made the decision to make more money and put a manager on [the farm] and run his own cows.” 

Mr Smith had a window of one year to move onto a new farm, which he said he was grateful for, but even with that timeframe the task was hard.

“It’s been ridiculous,” he said.

“There was recently a farm that sold for over $9,000 an acre, just for a hobby farm — that was a good little dairy farm that shut down.”

Dairy cows in a grassy paddock.

Mr Smith had to move hundreds of milking cows when he relocated.(ABC Rural: Jane McNaughton)

Newcomers locked out

Mr Smith said he was not alone in his struggles to remain on leased land or find available pastures to farm on in Victoria.

“There’s just so many young people, and others, looking for farms,” he said.

“Properties are going to sheep and beef and it’s something the dairy industry has to look at now or else we’re going to experience problems.

“I know three or four farmers now that are at a point if they cannot find a farm in the next few weeks, they’re going to have to sell their livestock and they’ll be lost to the industry.”

For young people, Mr Smith said getting into the market was virtually impossible at “$10,000 an acre”.

A large dairy apparatus in a milking shed.

Mr Smith’s new farm has a triangular dairy system, which is uncommon in Australia.(ABC Rural: Jane McNaughton)

‘A full on job’

When Mr Smith did find a farm he needed to move about 350 milking cows and more than 200 head of other livestock to the Irrewillipe property, along with machinery and household goods.

That was in addition to his daily farming responsibilities.

“It’s been a full on job, especially during COVID, it’s been very hard to get any help from family, friends or professionally,” he said. 

“Although it’s hard work, cold mornings and that … you’re working outside with animals and it’s a great way to earn a living.”

Read More

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *