Dairy Australia’s managing director Ian Halliday spent several days in the northern Victorian region in May talking to farmers and service providers after the milk price crash.
“The last 12 months have been difficult seasons,” Mr Halliday said.
“The milk price has been difficult for many farmers and that is on the back of a difficult season and coming late in the year, with only two months to go.
“We are trying to encourage people to work with Murray Dairy to help farmers get a better understanding of their true situations so they can make better decisions.”
Mr Halliday was aware of the talk of declining mental health of some farmers.
“If there are people looking for help, let’s make sure they are getting the right sort of support,” he said, and acknowledged the work of programs like ‘Looking Over the Farm Gate’ run by the UDV and VFF.
“It’s about farmers looking after one another. Social events can be quite critical.
“Some people can get overwhelmed, and it’s not just farmers but others in the industry, too.”
Mr Halliday said Dairy Australia had been rolling out a number of programs helping with the seasonal response for farmers, through regional development programs like Murray Dairy.
“With the milk price drop, and the dry seasonal conditions and access to affordable of water, we have been trying to accelerate that.
“The whole dairy network is being impacted and we think Murray Dairy is in a good position to assist.
“Some farmers may benefit from one-on-one support, but it will be up to the individual farmers to ask for assistance.”
Mr Halliday said Murray Dairy would ask if they have the physical and financial data available.
“If not, we can give you someone to help you pull that together. That might be Murray Dairy or other people.
“Once that is together we will be able to get a farm consultant to provide the one-on-one support by going through financial data and then providing a plan for the farm. This is the ‘Taking Stock’ program.
“We will also have some group activities like workshops and discussion groups.
“People are looking for support, they are also looking for social contacts and the UDV with Murray Dairy will help out there with community events.
“It’s not just about business management but about sharing ideas and getting together.
“It will be like a triage approach. Some looking for business management support and advice.
Some people will be looking for health and wellbeing support and others may benefit from rural financial counselling.’’