'Dying a slow death': The struggle dairy farmers are facing
AMID political debate in a week where Woolworths announced the end of $1 per litre milk, dairy farming families continue to struggle in silence.
Lynch's Creek dairy farmer Shane Hickey said the situation is dire for local dairy farmers, and no amount of talking will help.
"We need action," he said.
Speaking from his Lynch's Creek property near Kyogle, Mr Hickey expressed his frustration at the continuing lack of action by government as milk producers struggle to survive.
"We're all suffering from drought, and we're all basically dying a slow death in the sense that we're bleeding money every single day to produce milk," he said.
"Every farmer keeps saying it'll rain soon, it'll turn soon, but it hasn't yet.
"And then we see the pollies down in Canberra carry on with their pointless arguing. Something actually needs to be done."
While he believes Labor's plans to introduce a floor price for the dairy industry is not the best solution, he believes it would be a step in the right direction.
"People need to keep in mind the ACCC is not very farmer-friendly, it's more based for the consumer, that's just the way it is," he said.
"But if they use the ACCC to investigate what the floor price would be for farmers, and then to implement it, well that's something."
As a Norco farmer, Mr Hickey will not benefit from Tuesday's announcement of the end of Woolworths' $1 per litre branded milk, as the co-operative is contracted to Coles, but said it was good to see a supermarket step up.
"While that is a positive step, realistically farmers would need a levy of at least 25 cents per litre to break even," he said.
"That 10 cent levy is just a band-aid that's not going to stop the bleeding."
Mr Hickey said while the average dairy farmer earns only 45 cents per litre, it costs more than 60 cents to produce that litre of milk.
He said that 60c cost does not take into account having to purchase extra feed during the drought, or veterinary or maintenance costs, meaning farmers are slipping deeper into debt with every passing day.
"We have farmers who have drained their savings or are borrowing money from the bank, maxing out their overdrafts, and while they may start breaking even, they will never make a profit to make that money back," Mr Hickey said.