According to dairy farmers Sharyn and George, the crisis facing Victorian farming communities is much worse than most people realise, as many farmers are reluctant to ask for help.
The hard-working couple who own and operate a dairy farm near Shepparton say life is particularly difficult for small operators like themselves, who have limited reserves to draw on when times get tough.
Sharyn and George bought their farm with a view to supporting their family and providing security for the future. However, that vision soon turned sour as milk prices hit rock-bottom. George shares…
“We’re now making only a third of what we used to make. We’ve got machinery payments, water bills, and other running costs. These are fixed charges that have to be paid whether you use it or not. How are we going to keep paying for them when we’re not earning any money?”
Sharyn says that as a couple, she and George could possibly survive on the absolute minimum, but they’re doing everything they can to ensure their children are cared for too.
“If a family knows it’s got food in the cupboard, it will weather anything. Right now, we’re skimping on ourselves to make sure everything’s right outside”, George says.
Sharyn adds, “I could eat baked beans every night, but when you’ve got children, you can’t do that”.
Facing an uncertain future, the couple are doing everything they can to keep the business alive and provide for their three children, but that means Christmas is going to feel very different than in years gone by.
“People are saying Christmas is coming, and I’m thinking ‘is it?’. We’re only thinking about tomorrow. We’ve explained to our girls it’s going to be pretty tight”, says Sharyn.
And if things don’t improve, George says the family will be left with nothing … “this is our job, home and superannuation … but we’re in real danger of losing it all.”
In the face of so much uncertainty and hardship, thank you for showing your support for George and Sharyn – and so many more farmers like them across the state – by giving generously so they can enjoy a hope-filled Christmas!