South Australian dairy farmer Casey Treloar has recorded a heartfelt farewell to the industry she loves, as she prepared to leave her family farm in Parawa for the last time.
The third-generation dairy farmer said it was a video she hoped she would never have to make but, due to the state of the dairy industry, her family can no longer shoulder their debt burden.
“The clock has run out and it’s time to say goodbye,” Ms Treloar said.
“We are getting 38 cents a litre across the year and it’s completely unsustainable. We can’t really afford to keep going anymore.
Ms Treloar’s tearful farewell struck a chord with Facebook users with the video amassing more than 300,000 views since it was uploaded on Saturday.
It is a story that has played out for many dairy farmers in the past decade with low milk prices, retrospective price cuts for some suppliers, industry consolidation, and more recently spiralling costs due to drought.
Ms Treloar said she did not blame dollar-a-litre milk, but it did not help.
“The dollar-a-litre milk has devalued our product,” she said.
“Milk that we produce is not worth as much as it once was, and it’s to the point where our production is so much that we cannot sustain producing milk the way we have in the past.”
Global show of support
Messages of support and condolences for Ms Treloar and her family have streamed in from across the world.
“Beautiful cows, so sorry you’ve had to make this tough decision. Sending love from a Canadian dairy farmer,” Amy E. VanStraatem said.
Greg Ballweg from the United States also gave his support writing, “I’m sorry to hear about your family farm. I’m a dairy famer myself in Ohio we are still going but not sure how much longer”.
The cattle will need to be sold but Ms Treloar was also concerned about their future given the lack of confidence in the industry.
“We’ve seen cows here that have been nominated All Australian. Marcie, [one of the cows], she’s the best in the world for her age and breed, and her future is uncertain. The whole herd’s future is uncertain,” Ms Treloar said.
Support for family farms
Ms Treloar used her video to ask people to support family farming as they struggled with weather and poor prices for their produce.
“This is the future of farming where we’re going to get to a point where there won’t be these family farms anymore,” she said.
The Federal Government is looking at a mandatory code of conduct that would govern the way processors and retailers deal with issues in the dairy industry but it is not expected to impact on prices.
Last year the annual national farmer survey of 800 farmers looked at farmer confidence, which showed that less than half of dairy farmers remained confident about the industry’s future.
This figure has fallen from 75 per cent four years ago, and has been declining over the past three years.
The confidence of farmers has not been recorded this low since 2013 when it was at 43 per cent, which was at a time when farmgate returns were low, and there were challenging seasonal conditions as well as a high Australian dollar.