Boyne Valley farm lost as floods, milk prices take toll

SAD TO LEAVE: Dave and Leonie Paish, with daughter Billie, have decided to sell-up after a long battle to save their farm.
SAD TO LEAVE: Dave and Leonie Paish, with daughter Billie, have decided to sell-up after a long battle to save their farm.

A FAMILY-RUN dairy farm in the Boyne Valley, south of Gladstone, is going out of business after being sandwiched between floods and the supermarket price wars.

Dave and Leonie Paish, at Velvet Waters farm, have listed their property for $3.2 million, a decision Mrs Paish said was heart-breaking.

Debate rages over impact of cheaper milk prices

"It was a very hard decision to make, because we love what we do and it's certainly not something we wanted to do," Mrs Paish said.

"We've been here for three and a half years, and my dad bought the farm in 1995, so it's a family farm as well."

The farm was hit by two years of floods, the latest being ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald, leading to widespread damage and the loss of stock after being cut off.

The couple applied to the Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority for a $650,000 loan, but eventually received a $25,000 grant instead.

The authority said at the time it did not comment on particular cases, but that in 90% of cases applicants for flood assistance were successful in their claims.

"By itself it's a viable business but we had a lot of debt in just buying the place and getting it all set up....but with the flooding it's become impossible to keep it going," Mrs Paish said.

She said even though the farm received a price for its milk above what most other farms were receiving, it was still an extraordinarily low sum, with large supermarket chains fighting tooth and nail to lower milk prices.

"The supermarkets need to be pulled up," she said.

"It's not just the dairy industry they've done this too. It's a lot of the food industries out there which are really struggling.

"This one dollar milk thing has been going on for quite a while and I don't see any change happening.

"I don't see anyone putting the brakes on so I really don't know where the future lies for it all. Certainly our Queensland milk industry is in dire trouble. If something doesn't change soon there won't be fresh milk in Queensland because it won't be produced here."

Mrs Paish said the couple had a few thoughts as to what to do next if they succeeded in selling the farm, but dairy farming was their first love.

"We want to remain in dairy farming if possible despite its hardships," she said.

"Milking cows is what we do and what we love."

Post-flood damage

  • Most of the farm underwater
  • 30,000 litres of milk down the drain
  • 70 head of cattle lost

Topics:  boyne valley dairy farm milk supermarket price wars

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