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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tongala, Victoria







In the tiny town of Tongala, 14 kms from Echuca and set amongst parched, dusty paddocks is the Golden Cow. Once lush dairy country and set on 5 acres, it was established in 1994 as a non profit teaching facility for the dairy industry. But there's no dairy industry here now, dairy cows need lots of lush green grass and there's none here at Tongala.

It wasn't a happy visit because the farmer told us how the drought has affected his life. Just before Christmas he sold a 400 kilo beef cow for $1.20 per kilo which gave him a return of $480. The butcher buys that beast and will sell the meat for approximately $2500. To make matters worse, his water allocation has been cut by more than two thirds, down to 28% and he's having to buy water.

He also told us about an orchadist who bulldozed his 20,000 orange trees last year because he couldn't compete with the price of oranges coming in from Brazil. The trees are still sitting there piled up in heaps as a grim reminder to everyone who drives by.

The bottom line is profit and Woolworths and Coles continue to make millions while the farmer gets screwed. Such is rural life in Australia in 2009.