Zachary and Garry Wheeler on their Kandanga dairy farm appreciate the helping hand.
Zachary and Garry Wheeler on their Kandanga dairy farm appreciate the helping hand. Donna Jones

Kandanga dairy farmers get helping hand

WHILE their Kandanga dairy farm isn't officially drought declared, Garry Wheeler and his family, like all in their industry, are still feeling the effects of the drought.

"It's been tough,” he said. "It's been a real struggle.”

That's because it takes more than pasture to ensure their 250 cows continue producing milk.

It also takes feed grains and protein meal such as barley, wheat, sorgum and canola.

When Mr Wheeler and his wife Nat took on the farm eight years ago, they could get their grain for around $190 a tonne and were getting around 62 cents a litre for their milk.

They now get four cents a litre less (between 58 and 59 cents) but the cost of grain has skyrocketed to around $505 a tonne (before GST).

Zachary and Garry Wheeler on their Kandanga dairy farm appreciate the helping hand afforded the business by the Drought Relief Milk scheme from Woolworths.
Zachary and Garry Wheeler on their Kandanga dairy farm appreciate the helping hand. Donna Jones

And that is a direct result of the drought.

But the Wheelers have had a helping hand in the form of a couple of payments from the Woolworths Drought Relief Milk scheme.

Around 280 dairy farmers, like the Wheelers, get 3.36 cents per litre more for their milk and that money has been a Godsend for Garry and his family.

"The Woolies money is going directly to dairy farmers and it's helping us to pay the bills,” he said.

Around one third of the milk produced on the Wheeler's farm goes to the Drought Relief Milk produce line and the two $1000 plus payments the family have received over the past two months have really helped.

That may soon end though, because Mr Wheeler believes the scheme may stop after December 31, despite assurances from Woolworths they will look at reviewing the scheme at that time.

"I really hope they keep doing it. It really does help.”