Today’s blossoming of the very first daffodil reminded me we’re on the cusp of Spring – our 12 weeks of make or break on the farm.
Only yesterday, a banker asked me how the outlook was on farm. Anxious is the answer.
The feed pinch
The big dry has sent grain futures soaring, signalling that we’re in for exorbitant grain prices by Christmas.
Meanwhile, it’s been very hard to grow grass and the dry subsoils provide little moisture in reserve for what the Bureau is predicting will be a drier-than-normal Spring.
While we’ve invested heavily in a small amount of irrigation infrastructure, the dam is still well below full and we have no access to the aquifer.
At the same time, high quality hay suitable for the milkers is in very short supply, so I’ve been trying to lock in feed this harvest before it becomes too tight to mention.
The money pinch
Most dairy products are either traded internationally in US dollars or sold to domestic customers at a rate linked to international commodity prices.
This means that as the Australian dollar rises against the US dollar, the value of our milk falls. And rise it has, reaching 80 cents for the first time in two years.
Green shoots bring hope
On the other side of the ledger, there’s been cause for hope this morning.
Despite the exchange rate fears, the processor we supply, Fonterra, lifted its price for milk from $5.30kgMS to $5.50kgMS (from roughly 40.5 cents per litre to about 42 cents).
Second, I found a heap of worms slithering across the track in a bid to avoid the saturated soil. Yes, saturated! For the first time this winter, we finally have soft top soils.
Better late than never. Let’s hope the rain keeps coming and we don’t need to feed the cows massive amounts of grain to get through another drought.