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Dairy farmers face financial ruin without loan assistance

Dave and Leonie Paish (with daughter Billie) are facing financial ruin after their application for a flood assistance loan was knocked back twice.
Dave and Leonie Paish (with daughter Billie) are facing financial ruin after their application for a flood assistance loan was knocked back twice. Christopher Chan

TWO dairy farmers in the Boyne Valley are facing financial ruin after having an application for disaster relief knocked back twice - but the body responsible says the relief scheme is working as well as it could be.

Dave and Leonie Paish at Velvet Waters farm have had a loan application from the Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority knocked back for a second time since the farm flooded earlier this year after ex-cyclone Oswald tore through.

Mrs Paish said most of the farm went underwater with power supplies damaged, fences washed away and animals lost, with the farm still 39 head of cows down.

"We've had a loss of production as well, so we've scraped to be able to feed all of our cows," Mrs Paish said.

The farm was cut off after the flood, meaning 30,000 litres of milk had to go down the drain.

The couple originally applied for a $650,000 exceptional disaster assistance grant and loan, but were told by the QRAA to scale back their ambitions to just under $200,000.

However, their second application for a loan also was denied.

"We're really against the wall, and we're still pondering what our next move might be," Mrs Paish said.

"I feel very disappointed that it's so openly advertised to the public that help is out there, and in a situation like ours we desperately need help but we couldn't get it.

"I don't actually know of anyone who's got one of these loans."

A spokesperson for the QRAA declined to comment on the case, but said more than 90% of applicants were successful, sharing in $50 million.

"Our view is that we want people to recover and get people to keep on producing," customer relations manager Craig Turner said.

"Our guidelines are available to everyone and it's quite clear what we're assessing on. All individual enterprises have their individual circumstances that we take into account."

Plan to give farmers more muscle at negotiating table stalls

EFFORTS to get a state-wide milk co-operative up and running have hit a brick wall with farmers hesitant to sign on the dotted line.

Port Curtis Dairy Cooperative chairman Peter Woodland said efforts had stalled as some farmers feared payback from buyers should they sign on.

"They're scared to be seen to be out talking about supporting things like this because they're frightened of not getting their contracts renewed," Mr Woodland said.

Mr Woodland and the co-operative is aiming to unite about 600 dairy farmers from Queensland and northern New South Wales to give farmers more muscle at the negotiating table with buyers.

"We've got a choice. Either go along as it is now or get bigger and tougher," Mr Woodland said.

"You can't deal in the world of today in a fragmented situation like we are."

Topics:  boyne valley, dairy farming, farming, rural



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