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Dairy farmers contemplate future

Tuesday January 8, 2013 - 07:16 EDT
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Hunter Valley dairy farmers head into 2013 in desperate need of rain. - ABC

Hunter Valley dairy farmers head into 2013 in desperate need of rain.

Irrigation use is on the rise in the Upper and Lower Hunter as the dry conditions worsen.

The situation has deteriorated so much in recent months that the Upper Hunter's drought status has been upgraded to 'marginal'.

Aberdeen dairyman Scott Wheatley says in addition to a much needed price hike rain is on this year's wish list.

"We could definitely do with some more up here." he said.

"It's been patchy in places.

"Some areas got quite good rain a few weeks ago over Christmas, but we could definitely do with a lot more at the moment.

"The hot weather knocks them around so much.

"Most of the dairy farms in the Valley are all irrigated so we've got the irrigation running flat out but we could definitely do with a bit of assistance from above."

The dairy farmers say the effects of higher electricity prices are starting to bite.

There has been a mass exodus of dairy farmers from the local industry in recent years and Mr Wheatley says many farmers are contemplating their futures.

"Everything has gone up - electricity especially," he said.

"And because it is dry, we are irrigating a lot more than we have done in the last few years, and so that is starting to pinch as well.

"There is quite a few farms that are looking at closing up in the not too distant future."


© ABC 2013

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