HYDEN farmer Kent Mouritz said the biggest issues which struck farmers last year were the low grain prices, high input costs and low yields.

Mr Mouritz spoke at the recent crisis meeting held in Kulin.

“We can’t handle all three at once, which was proved last year,” Mr Mouritz said.

“To get out of the crisis, it has to rain, the input costs have to come down and we need an average grain price.”

Mr Mouritz spent $450,000 on fertiliser and chemicals for his 5000 hectare program last year, which was 40 per cent more than usual.

“It was a very poor start to the season and very staggered – there was no real weed germination due to no reasonable rain event,” he said.

“The staggered germination of ryegrass, radish and barley grass made it harder to kill the weeds; therefore we had to spend more money on chemicals.

“The crop only looked very average – the shortage of

moisture restricted crop growth.”

Mr Mouritz said the low rainfall along with falling grain prices produced yields that were 40 to 50pc poorer than what everyone budgeted for.

“We yielded 1.15 tonnes which was below average – we like to budget for about 1.5 tonnes per hectare,” he said.

“Depending on average grain prices, we need to get 1.4t/ha to break even.”

Mr Mouritz said this season banks needed to look at the bigger picture and what had happened over the last 40 years.

“There are a couple of farmers at the meeting that were on the bones of their backside in the early 80’s and because of an interest subsidy, were able to continue,” he said.

“They now have equity in the 75 to 85pc range.

“The banks need to be patient and show a bit of understanding, things will turn around.

“My son Mitch is keen as mustard to take over the farm, but I think it’s important to look at the future, and at the moment I’m not sure if the whole picture will be there.

“No one wants to go to farms where there are no people in the communities.

“There are many emotional problems due to the stress that comes with farming and I don’t even wish to begin to think where that will lead some to.

“The biggest thing is that the communities will collapse, which is beginning to happen at the moment, and that’s really sad.”


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