Miriam Vale dairy farmer Tommy Bayliss at the Miriam Vale Hotel on January 4, 2020. He said he has never seen the town so dry in 56 years.
Miriam Vale dairy farmer Tommy Bayliss at the Miriam Vale Hotel on January 4, 2020. He said he has never seen the town so dry in 56 years.

‘You haven’t got a choice’: Dairy farmer’s drought struggles

TOMMY Bayliss has never seen Miriam Vale as dry as it is now during the 56 years he has lived in the town.

Mr Bayliss owns dairy farm Glen Vale, where he would normally run 300 head on 405ha.

Given the dry conditions he has reduced his stock to 220 – and still can’t turn a profit.

Miriam Vale was put on water restrictions in August after the town’s supply, Baffle Creek, dried up.

The father of five and grandfather of nine said it was likely he would keep reducing stock.

“Never, ever in my life have I seen it for two years like this,” Mr Bayliss said.

“I’m buying (feed) from Adelaide. It’s costing me $700 a tonne.

“But you’ve got to give it to them to feed them … if you don’t feed them they won’t milk.”

Mr Bayliss bought the property in 1963 when he used to milk all the cows by hand.

His cows produce about 4000L a day, which he sells to Pauls.

Mr Bayliss said the rain on Christmas Eve was nowhere near enough to help the town.

“But I can make a dollar if it rains,” he said.

Despite the tough times, Mr Bayliss said he couldn’t fathom the idea of leaving his farm.

“You’ve got to do it,” he said.

“You’ve got kids, grandkids; they need something.

“If you don’t do it, where are you going to finish up?

“You haven’t got a choice.”

Mr Bayliss said he would like to see more funding from the government to help out and fairer milk prices.

“If we got a decent price for our milk we wouldn’t mind,” he said.

“I got more money for my milk in the ‘90s than I get now.

“It’s hard.”