They say our local town has a heart that beats on the 15th of every month – pay day for the milk co-op. While 98 per cent of Australian dairy farms are small family-owned businesses, they do turn over significant sums. My own books show it was almost $900,000 last year. It’s a shame we keep so little of that turnover (the average dairy farm enterprise makes 1 to 2% returns) but it’s great for the town.
Dairy Australia notes that: “Dairy is also one of Australia’s leading rural industries in terms of adding value through downstream processing. Much of this processing occurs close to farming areas, thereby generating economic activity and employment in country regions. ABARE estimates the regional economic multiplier effect to be roughly 2.5 from the dairy industry.”
Here on the farm, we employ one full-time local and two casuals directly but I think the biggest contribution our little business makes to the community is through our purchases. We spend a lot of money on grain, fertiliser and pasture renovation but there are also the vets, rural produce store, hay and silage baling, mechanics and even excavators.
This year will be a little different. I have to save almost $150,000 at a time when the price of grain is on the rise, sell silverware in the form of cows or borrow more money. Suffice to say, I will be as tight as a Yuletide Grinch.
It will be essential repairs only and the tractor will simply not be allowed to blow its gaskets like it did last year.