Dairy farmers from Numurkah near Shepparton in the State's north came to Melbourne on October 25 2019 to plead their case with Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley but were not given an audience..
Dairy farmers from Numurkah near Shepparton in the State's north came to Melbourne on October 25 2019 to plead their case with Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley but were not given an audience..

Dairy cows killed like racehorses but no one cares, farmers say

More than 100 dairy farmers in one Victorian region have stopped milking in the past year while 12,000 cows have been slaughtered in just two months, as drought and water prices bite in the State's north.

Farmers from Numurkah, near Shepparton, said it was frustrating to see "city folk" so outraged over racehorse deaths while their finely-bred dairy cows were meeting the same fate, and in much greater numbers, at "the choppers".

"People are getting all upset about racehorses going off to slaughter but they don't seem to know, or care, that dairy farmers are having to cull their high-genetic cows, just to pay the bills. It's awful. Our cows are going, like the racehorses, to the abattoirs and being killed the same way," dairy farmer Bridget Goulding said.

Businesses in the township were also struggling.

"Our community is dying," dairy farmer Robyn Lindsay said.

Dairy farmers from Numurkah near Shepparton in the State's north came to Melbourne to plead their case with Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley but were not given an audience.
Dairy farmers from Numurkah near Shepparton in the State's north came to Melbourne to plead their case with Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley but were not given an audience.

 

Her husband Paul Lindsay said it made matters worse that as farmers were culling herds and going broke, speculators were making money by trading precious water.

"The water has become the stock exchange," he said. "There's people who've got water that don't own any land and they're just using it to bump the prices up and make a lot of money."

Chairman of Northern Victoria Irrigators and longtime Numurkah dairy farmer Dudley Bryant said many of the cows "getting choppered" had been worth thousands of dollars before the drought and boasted some of the best breeding lines in the world.

"We are selling those cows to the choppers because we haven't got water to grow grass for them," he said. "And there's water going downstream to South Australia, just running out to sea."

 

Shepparton Regional Saleyards, where farmers have had to sell their cows due to the rising costs of dairy farming. Picture: Alex Coppel
Shepparton Regional Saleyards, where farmers have had to sell their cows due to the rising costs of dairy farming. Picture: Alex Coppel

The farmers travelled from northern Victoria to Melbourne on Friday to plead their case with Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley, who was speaking at a function, but were not given an audience.

Numurkah businesswoman Anita Seiter said 117 dairy farmers within a 25km radius of the town had stopped milking in the last 11 months, while Shepparton District independent MP Suzanna Sheed said nearly 60 per cent the region's dairy farmers had left the industry since 2001.

mandy.squires@news.com.au



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