Facing dilemma over water cost
Andrew Wilson is looking at a temporary water bill of more than $200 000 just to irrigate his pastures this year.
With little or no prospects for fodder purchase this spring, he is facing a huge dilemma.
What will he be feeding his cows this year?
It is a question at the forefront of the minds of most dairy farmers, and has left Mr Wilson wondering how much deeper he can dig the financial hole.
‘‘It is a huge worry. If I don’t grow grass, what will I be able to substitute it with?
‘‘I want to maximise my spring growth but at $340/Ml how do I do that?
‘‘I need 600 Ml to get me through to May and at $200 000 worth of water, that is a big bogeyman to be looking back at you on paper when your business is already running tight to the line — and especially in a season when money isn’t falling out of the sky.’’
Mr Wilson has been farming on his Strathmerton property for nine years.
He is worried that if he borrows money to buy water for this season and things do not improve next year, it could be the start of an even bigger problem.
‘‘During other years we have always had a substitute to draw on to feed our stock,’’ he said.
‘‘Cows need a certain amount of fibre in their diet and they can’t survive on grain alone, but fibre isn’t going to be around this year and if it is, farmers from Townsville right down to here will be eyeing it off.
‘‘There really is no plan B to feed our cows this year, which is what makes things different this season.’’
Mr Wilson has attended various meetings in the past few months and has heard a lot of solutions bandied about.
He said the best one he had heard to date was to give farmers access to environmental water now.
He said action needed to happen now — not in a few months’ time when the opportunity to grow spring fodder had passed.