Farmer Battling Drought And Fire Forced To Dump 15,000L Of Milk A Day
With fire cutting off highway access to Milton in NSW, it's claimed the Narrawilly dairy farm has been forced to dump 15,000 litres of milk a day.
The dairy supplies Lactalis – the company known for Pauls Milk and Vaalia.
But the owner says the dairy is in “survival mode” as bushfires cut off road access for many South Coast farmers who have alarmingly low feed, fuel and water supplies.
“We would normally do a lot more milk than that but everything is in survival mode,” Narrawilly owner Robert Miller told 10 daily.
“They desperately want the milk and are doing everything they can to get a truck here.”
10 daily has contacted Lactalis for comment.
Fire had already hit one of Narrawilly’s two farms, which each house 500 cows.
That fire still threatens the back boundary.
“This is not your regular fire, it’s so dry and it’s moving so fast. We don’t feel safe,” Miller said.
“We’ve lost quite a few acres but the dairy and animals are fine for now.”
Their firefighting efforts have been severely hindered by a two-day power outage and a fuel shortage.
“We have generators which are driven by tractors that need fuel but we’re also driving them constantly to put out spot fires on the property," the farmer claimed.
“We can’t keep much fuel on-site because of the fire danger, we’ve driven our tanker into Termeil (village) to fill up four times already.”
However, feed is the major issue with cattle eating what is left of drought-ravaged paddocks "down to the dirt".
“We have no feed and fires have melted our water pipes so water is very scarce," Miller claimed.
“We’ve been trucking 25 tonnes of feed every day because of drought but with the roads closed it’s getting tight,” he said.
“We’ve got underground feed protected from fire, which we’ll open up, but fire has melted our water pipes so water is scarce.”
Getting truckloads of hay through the fire zones is proving hazardous.
“Last week we dumped load in Nowra because it was too dangerous to bring into Milton and we’re travelling at night.”
The lack of feed is the major issue for many South Coast farmers affected by fire.
The race is on to save more than 600 cattle trapped in Belowra, NSW after fire cut off truck access there.
“We’ve been told DPI (Department of Primary Industries) and LLS (Local Land Services) can’t get a chopper that is capable of landing in the smoky situation,” resident Deb Dance told 10 daily.
“The boys are working to make the road more serviceable and will then try to bring out hay on our truck but the cattle are starving.”
The cattle belong to seven producers in the area who have claimed the calves will likely start dying in the next few days, and cattle by the end of the week, without an emergency airdrop.
With another dangerous day predicted for Saturday, farmers fear their circumstances could become even more dire.
"I don’t think I’ll fight or stay behind when there’s another fire," Miller said.
"Once is enough."
Tourists are being warned to stay away from the area because of the danger and limited resources.