As Australia’s dry conditions worsen, dairy farmers affected by feed shortages are encouraged to seek support for both their livestock and themselves.

Dairy Australia managing director Dr David Nation said high demand for fodder coupled with escalating water prices and uncertainty of supply was creating pressure for some farmers.

“The most important message is to act now to best prepare your business for the coming year,” David said in a media statement.

He said Rural Development Programs (RDPs) would focus on delivering tools and resources to guide on-farm feed planning and management as part of their extension role.

“I encourage farmers to reach out to the RDP in their region and work with the team to maximise home-grown feed in late winter and spring,” David said.

Fodder is becoming increasingly difficult to source in the east-coast states in particular.

A poor autumn across much of eastern Australia and ongoing drought in NSW, Queensland and East Gippsland in Victoria have already had a serious effect, and the Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a one-in-two likelihood of an El Niño event forming in the coming spring and summer.

Dairy Australia’s new Feed Shortage 2018 resource hub points farmers to relevant information including hay and grain reports, a farm inputs monitor and feed budgeting tools.

This campaign builds on the work of previous seasonal responses such as feed.FIBRE.future in 2006–07 and Tactics for Tight Times.

It comprises seven components:

  • Seasonal update information sessions
  • Feed budgeting and purchasing risk management
  • Dairy discussion groups
  • Engagement and signposting
  • Regional planning, co-ordination and communication
  • Taking stock
  • Access to feedstuffs.

The latest details are available online at dairyaustralia.com.au/feedshortage.

The Rural Financial Counselling Service provides primary producers including dairy farmers with free and impartial financial information, options, decision-making support and referral services – phone 1800 686 175.

The National Farmers’ Federation has compiled a list of drought support services and published this on its Facebook page.

And Lion Diary & Drinks offers a comprehensive Personal Support Program to assist its dairy farmers – including all DFMC members – in meeting the challenges and demands of work and personal life.