League star loses his football fortune
BECOMING a dairy farmer has lost former Canberra Raiders second-rower Ian Hindmarsh all the money he earned in eight years as a professional rugby league player.
The father-of-two wishes he had gambled his earnings away instead of pursuing his dream to be a dairy farmer. He would have had more fun as the money vanished.
He bought the 160hectare property in 2002 during his first stint with the Parramatta Eels and built himself a dairy, before the industry soured.
“I may as well have gambled away the money from playing football, because at least I would have had a life away from the farm,” Hindmarsh, 42, said.
“If I didn’t build a dairy on my farm, I’d be debt-free and I could have a life.”
The drought has increased costs on his Cowra farm in the Central West of NSW by 40 per cent. With 330 milking cows, it is still running but he expects the bank will foreclose on his business before he’s able to return to profit, unless the supermarkets greatly increase what they pay for milk.
The Hindmarsh family has been continuously milking cows in Australia for more than 170 years and Ian maintains dairy farming is in his blood, but under the current market conditions he doesn’t want his children Dekota, 13, and Flynn, 12, to continue the family business.
Hindmarsh has taken out a bank loan to finance feed for his cattle for the next 12 months because there hasn’t been enough rain to grow pasture.
In an average year, he would not need to buy any animal feed because he would typically grow enough rye grass, wheat and lucerne.
The price of grain has skyrocketed 80 per cent and hay has doubled in the past 18 months as the drought worsened, although the price for milk hasn’t increased.
Unlike other financially stressed dairy farmers, Hindmarsh can’t afford to sell his milking cows and reinvest in beef cattle or crops because any earnings won’t cover his debts.
“Things are pretty well f…ed,” he said. “There’s just no cream in dairy.
“I can go on as long as my bank manager can keep looking after me. One day I’ll crack it and walk away.
“My wife and I have too much debt to retain our farm, so we’ll have to sell everything and we won’t have the money to buy back in.”
Valuable milking cows being sold to abattoirs for meat reveals the dairy industry’s dire problems.
Hindmarsh has sold 70 milking cows “over the hook” for meat. On paper, the value of his remaining milking cows has plunged $500,000 in 18 months.
A flood of farmers in the Central West are expected to cash in their chips and leave the industry if and when milking cows regain their premium.
In the current climate, Ian does not wish to see his kids Dekota and Flynn enter farming despite the family’s 170-year legacy.