Too little, too late

27 Jul, 2006 07:00 PM

FOR Dardanup dairy farmer John Giumelli this week's rainfall has come a little to late.

"It's too cold in the year now to get the pasture growth we want, but I consider myself very fortunate," Mr Giumelli said.

Many farmers in the Wheatbelt would probably gasp at Mr Giumelli's green pastures, but the paddocks are normally too wet to drive on and are locked up for hay production in spring.

Instead, dairy cattle are grazing meagrely across the paddocks because the farm is about 400mm short of its average rainfall and running at 60pc production.

Three road trains of round hay bales and one of frosted wheat were delivered to the farm this year to supplement the dairy cows' diet.

It is the first time Mr Giumelli has brought in supplementary feed in such a large quantity.

"The big problem is not finding the feed, it's having the money to pay for it," Mr Giumelli said.

"It's grass only now, which would be normal for me in any other season."

Dairy company Fonterra has adjusted its payment schedule for dairy farmers over the next three months in recognition of the dry season.

An additional 1c/L will be paid to Fonterra suppliers for August, September and October.

Mr Giumelli said while the increase was welcome, for many suppliers the money in the pocket was needed months ago when producers needed to pay for additional feed.

Meanwhile, CBH has pulled out of an agriculture study tour of Argentina and Brazil because of the tough season.

CBH chairman Tony Critch confirmed the company was pulling in the reins after foreshadowing some tight operating procedures due to the season.

WAFarmers, Agriculture Department and Pastoralists and Graziers Association are still taking part in the three-week tour at a cost of $11,200 per person.

Mr Critch said CBH did not want to send the wrong message to graingrowers by taking part in the tour during a critical time in the season.


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