My name is Courtney Guy, I grew up in prime dairy country in Simpson, South West Victoria. I am writing this letter on behalf of my family; my mum Mary, my sister Rhiannon and my brother Shaun and most of all my dad James Guy.
By writing this letter we hope that this can help bring about change and make people aware that our farmers still out there need help now!
So they and their families do not pay the ultimate price that we have!
Exactly 6 months ago to the date as I write this letter, my family lost our husband and father, our friends lost a great mate, and the community lost a kind soul.
My dad, James Guy, lost his battle on November 17 2016.
He was 55 years old and for his entire lifetime, all he ever knew was dairy farming.
He left school at the age of 15 to come home on the family farm and never looked back.
My dad lived and breathed dairy farming, he loved the country life and was never short of conversation about the farm, milking, milk prices, cost of production…anything farm related. Us kids would often complain when we were younger that all dad ever spoke about was the farm. He was a passionate advocate for the farming industry and for future generations of farmers.
Dad was always attending meetings, joining committees and was part of an advisory group for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter as well as participating in rallies and always keeping the conversation going about how farmers were going to survive this crisis.
By this crisis I mean the appalling state that farmers are in due to the horrendous milk prices, lack of support from factories, supermarket attitudes, increasing running costs and the overall financial pressure that all farmers are facing.
We as a family paid the ultimate price due to this crisis!
My dad always tried to see the light at the end of what he called a very dark tunnel.
He was always positive, saying that the dairy industry would turn around and that he and mum would be ok.
Well, that industry has let us down, and worse it let my dad down.
My dad’s life after 40 years of slugging it out, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, ended with the loss of his life.
The burden and pressures were the major cause of the stress and worry for my dad but he tried to keep going, even when things got extreme. But this time it was was just too much, the light disappeared for him at the end of that tunnel his battle was lost.
Now my family are left to wake up every day knowing that he isn’t with us anymore. The things we took for granted my sister's phone calls from dad when he was hiding in the tractor because he was in trouble with mum, my brother who can no longer share a beer and talk about their passion for their footy club and for me, the fact that I will never be able to argue with my dad that the reason I swear so much was because I learnt from the best.
My mum is now a widow, with no partner to go through life, to retire with and travel around Australia, as were their plans.
To those who can make a difference I say this.
Our farmers are in desperate need of change, to enable them to continue doing what they love, which is supplying Australia with an essential everyday product, milk.
Dairy farming is a 7 day a week job with early mornings, long days and late nights. Farmers are on call 24/7, when their cows need them they are there in rain, hail or shine. There is little down time and when farmers do get the chance to get off the farm they often spend their time thinking, worrying, planning about the farm.
I’d also like to acknowledge that this crisis is just not isolated to the dairy industry but is one that impacts on all our primary producers.
Recent media attention, has helped highlight the pittance that farmers are paid for an in demand product.
The cost of production far outweighs the milk cheque that comes in every month, so the borrowing begins, the bills don’t get paid, the kids miss out on their after school activities because the family can’t afford it.
Some families couldn’t even afford to put food on their tables.
Those responsible need to realise what they have done to Dairy Farmers.
Cut backs on farm gate prices, increased financial pressures, farmers with million dollar debts hanging over their heads who are already struggling to make ends meet.
Imagine being in that position!
Imagine not being able to feed your own children, let alone your animals.
We need politicians, the people that can make change happen, to back our farmers.
We want the problem fixed, not just a band-aid solution over an already deep wound.
But most of all we don’t want another family to pay the price that this industry has made us pay.
We don’t want dad’s passion for farming to be lost in future generations.
Primary producers are the backbone of our great country and without them, where will you get your milk for your morning coffee? Your bread for your kid’s school lunch? Your meat and vegetables for tonight’s dinner? Don’t let these great industries go to waste.
We are not ashamed of dad’s death and by highlighting it we hope it will help bring about change a change for the future we all want to see.
We want this message to go out to everyone, we need to work together to need to reduce these pressures on farmers and we would hope the dairy industry would start to look after their own and that we would see once again this wonderful country thrive on the backbone of our nation, our farmers.
Courtney said you would like a copy of our family photo. Here it is, its bitter sweet looking at it, it was a much happier time and I wish I could go back in time and rescue him then.
Please get some recognition for our hard working farmers.
Thank you for all you are trying to do, wishing you much luck and lots of listening ears and hopefully some positive results.
"Remember farmers do not want hand outs , they just want a fair price for the product they produce and the hours they work."