Wednesday, 08 April 2020 12:32

Tough time on farm for many

Written by  Peter Burke
Ben Allomes. Ben Allomes.

Under pressure from drought and COVID-19, Woodville dairy farmer Ben Allomes says: ‘we can’t shut our doors and just walk away’.

Last week’s rain has helped his situation, but he says more rain is needed to deal with the drought. 

Allomes told Rural News the effects of the drought are being exacerbated by the COVID-19 virus. He says there’s been an inability to source feed and the price of PKE has spiked and all of this has created uncertainty for beef prices.

He’s been trying to get cull cows to the works, but a combination of COVID-19 and drought has seen him forced to retain animals that he would like to be rid of. Allomes also had to take back young stock from grazing properties who have run out of feed.

Meanwhile, his family and staff had been preparing for the possibility of a lockdown long before the Government announcement. Ben and wife Nicky took their children out of school early to protect the health of the family. He says that he and his staff had talked about the situation and had been self-isolating on the farm.

“There has been a huge focus on hygiene with hand wipes on tractors, staff wearing gloves and keeping a safe distance from each other,” he told Rural News.  “The good news is that our staff have still got jobs and we can still operate as business.” 

Allomes says he and other farmers have been engaged in what he calls ‘cautious stocking up’.

“We are making sure we have got some beer, we stocked up on fence posts because we can do some fencing while we are locked down. Others have stocked up on gorse spray or paint to get a few things done during the lockdown.” 

Allomes says the big thing for him is the realisation is that no matter what, he and his team have got to get up every single day and still go out and milk the cows and keep our animals alive.  He says there is lot of talk around the fact that as food producers’ farmers have got to produce.

“But I am not even thinking about making milk,” he says. “I am concerned about keeping my animals alive because I have got to get through the next spring and the drought and making milk is actually secondary for me.”

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