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Milking us dry

Todd Brown is worried about his future in the dairy industry. He works at his father’s dairy and enjoys it but said cheap milk would ruin the industry.
Todd Brown is worried about his future in the dairy industry. He works at his father’s dairy and enjoys it but said cheap milk would ruin the industry. Renee Pilcher

ONLY 15 from 200 people attending a recent Dairy Reunion Dinner, held to raise money for The Gympie Show, said they were still in the dairy industry.

Gympie Show chief dairy steward Ray Zerner said he was interested to find out who was still involved in dairying and was shocked after asking to see a show of hands.

Owen and his son Todd Brown were among those at the dinner who are still in the milk game.

Todd, 17, is planning on showing his jersey cows again at the Gympie Show this year; he has been showing for 10 years with his father's help.

Mr Zerner said he hoped the Browns would help contribute to a thriving dairy exhibit at the show in March, but he worried because sponsors had started tightening their belts and so many were leaving the industry.

He also hoped this year would be as successful as past shows, but said it all came down to whether farmers could afford it.

"They do it because they love it," he said explaining that it was costly to show cows.

Todd agreed saying he loved exhibiting and working in the dairy with his dad, but thought Coles' cheap milk campaign was "ruining the industry".

Speaking at his 130-head Bells Bridge dairy farm yesterday Owen Brown said he was worried about his son's future in the milk business.

Since Coles dropped the price of their milk to $1 a litre and started a price war a year ago, the Pauls suppliers are being paid six cents less per litre.

If they make their bonuses they can make an extra three cents.

"But it makes it harder," Mr Brown said.

He got into the dairy business after marrying into it and has worked in the industry for 14 years, running the operation for the last two.

"An extra 10c would make a big difference."

He was not happy that the price of milk dropped to $1 a litre but he "can understand why people buy it".

And he is not about to sell up, even though he doesn't make much profit working seven days a week.

"I'm happy to stay in it for now and see how the next three years go."

Topics:  dairy industry farmers gympie show

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