The Effects of the current drought situation is being felt throughout the farming communities, even on the South African Dairy Industry.
Presenting the impact felt in this industry at the Agri SA 2019/2020 Drought Report presentation, Dr Chris van Dijk (Milk Producers Organisation) said 85% the coastal regions, as well as 15% of the interior parts of the country especially the Free State and North West, are affected.
Van Dijk said herd sizes are busy deteriorating, due to the culling of even lactating cows to a level where it is not economically viable to keep on milking.
“The low availability of roughage (silage), concentrates at excessively high prices, and the low/no availability of water from rivers, dams, and boreholes together with the low milk price, are all contributing to a negative spiral effect in the dairy industry, with more than 60% of dairy farmers in certain provinces indicating that they need to call it a day.”
That is 66% in the Free State, 33% in Gauteng, 50% in North West, 42% in the Western Cape, 20% in Kwazulu-Natal as well as the Eastern Cape.
He said more than 35,000 (> 100,000 family included) people are working on dairy farms. Farmers and secondary industries are downsizing as a result of the drought.
“A flow-on effect is being felt in the local towns that depend on the farming community for their economy.
“It is clear that South African producers are having a very difficult time to meet ends. In the short to medium-term, financial support from the government needs to be investigated and implemented to ensure the supply of fodder to both commercial and emerging dairy farmers,” said Van Dijk,
He said the farm gate milk price to the milk producers needs to increase to a level that can support the high input prices.
“Although most milk farmers are already optimising all aspects around
financial management, production, and reproduction financial inputs from
government and a higher milk price will also contribute to maintaining the
health status of the national dairy herd by maintaining immunisation,
deworming as well as vitamin and mineral supplementation of all dairy animals.”