A recent survey of 800 farmers from around Australia, looking at farmer confidence, showed less than half of those surveyed remained confident about the industry’s future.
A recent survey of 800 farmers from around Australia, looking at farmer confidence, showed less than half of those surveyed remained confident about the industry’s future.

He works 18 hours a day, but earned only $700 last month

A KYOGLE dairy farmer's plea for economic fairness after calculating he was getting paid just $2.46 an hour has gone viral on social media.

Lynchs Creek farmer Shane Hickey's video posted to Facebook on Tuesday has clocked up 1.2 million views and more than 43,000 shares.

Mr Hickey said the video had hit a raw nerve because unfairness in the dairy industry was "like a bad smell that keeps coming back".

Mr Hickey works a crazy 14 to 18 hours every single day, seven days a week to keep the farm running, and was paid less than $700 over the course of last month.

That worked out to $2.46 an hour - before most expenses, except for grain.

"I've still got to pay a mortgage out of that. I think it covered the grain, that was it. I have to cover all other operating expenses."

"The drought has just decimated our milk production," he said.

However while the drought is what prompted him to post the video, Mr Hickey said it was only responsible for 50 per cent of the problem - the other culprit was systemic unfairness in the industry.

He said the problems arose after the industry was deregulated about 20 years ago.

"I know for a fact in Canada their farmers get 20 per cent more and retail branded milk prices are 5 per cent cheaper.

"My parents milked here from 1979 to 1993... I'm getting 20 per cent less than what they were in 1986.

"Everything's gone up (in price), but we're copping it. They're bleeding us dry, it's unbelievable.

"Its farmers from the top to the bottom of Australia.

"Parmalat and Saputo are paying their farmers on average on average 44-52c. In Canada they pay their farmers 70c plus.

"We don't have a farmer's union, and we can't stop our milk supply (if the price drops).

"Most of the farmers are 56 years of age plus, and they don't know where to complain to, they don't know what to do.

"We're all in the same boat... one lady was telling me she runs on a $150,000 overdraft and she has $50,000 of credit cards to try and keep the business running.

"And I was told at $2.46 an hour I was one of the lucky ones to make that, some people are actually in the negative."

Mr Hickey's farm supplies to Norco, but he said he didn't blame them because as a smaller cooperative they were "stuck between a rock and a hard place".

"In the back of their mind they know they've got to take care of the farmers, where a lot of these other companies don't care, at all," he said.

"These other companies are really big multinational companies and they've got the power to screw the market down if they need to."

He said a mandatory code of conduct the ACCC planned to introduce to the industry wouldn't solve the issues.

"Really the Federal Government has got to step up to the plat and find out what all our costs are... and give us an award, because it's basically 20 years that all of us have been severely underpaid," he said.

"We don't want handouts, I don't want to accept anybody's money... we just want to be paid an amount that we can have dignity and respect and pay our bills."



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