Comboyne farmer hopes for Legendairy spin-off
As Comboyne gets set to unveil an innovative new building at the local showgrounds on December 5, dairy farmer Rod Fisher hopes the town’s new `Legendairy’ status will inspire the same sort of community spirit that helped save the showgrounds in the first place.
When community ownership of the showgrounds was under threat, Rod and others in the local farming fraternity rallied to ensure its future. The annual Comboyne Goat Race was born, becoming an integral part of the show’s revival and survival.
Rod also hopes the town’s Legendairy title will bring more attention to the needs of local dairy farmers.
Born into the dairy farming life, Rod, at 62 is worried that he might be the last of a dying breed in the Comboyne area.
He’s had great success and growth over the decades but believes better prices are needed to sustain local farmers.
“We started off with 225 acres when dad bought the farm in 1950 and grew it to 900 acres. We went from 40 to 300 cows but have gone back to 200 because we’ve had a bit of a problem finding labour,” Rod said.
Rod and Susan’s two sons, aged in their mid-20s, have their own careers as an electrical engineer and personal trainer. “When I milk my last cow, I’m afraid it will be last cow ever milked here, which is a shame but that’s probably how it’s going to be,” Rod said.
“The boys like the farm and don‘t want to see it sold, but they don’t plan to return to milk the cows.”
Rod’s seen a lot of change in the local dairy industry since he started in 1968.
“Originally there were 120 farmers supplying our local butter factory. We had 37 in 2000 when we were deregulated and now we’re down to 13, although we’re probably producing just as much milk because we’ve all expanded.”
Rod has been living in hope of a revival of fortunes for local farmers and says the impetus of being named the Legendairy Capital of New South Wales could lead to more hands-on interest from young people and a better price for farmers.
“Those who are left are getting older but the bank tells me I can’t retire yet. Expenses keep going up but the price per litre doesn’t really vary and doesn’t get to where it needs to be,” he said. “We’re a fair way behind the eight ball in my view.”
Rod says an extra five cents per litre would ease the concerns of local farmers.
He appreciates the Legendairy communications initiative to raise the profile and reputation of the industry and thinks the best way to promote dairying is to get children involved.
“We have busloads of kids from Port Macquarie come to the farm,” he said. “A lot of them have never been outside Port Macquarie and they think it’s fantastic. A farm is a really good place to raise kids.”
Comboyne being named the Legendairy Capital of NSW was a bit of a shock to Rod, albeit a pleasant one.
“I was quite amazed,” he said. “There are a lot of areas with more dairy farms than we’ve got but dairy farming is really important for the community; it has kept Comboyne going for all these years.”
He thinks it’s the “community minded” spirit that got the town over the line.
“Everyone fits in quite well together. It’s normal in Comboyne to help each other when there’s a problem.”
That’s what happened when the showgrounds and the annual show were under threat.
“I got involved when they couldn’t meet the insurance costs and the old buildings were falling down and they were looking at giving it to the council,” Rod said.
“I think keeping the showground as a community asset is really important. The community didn’t like it so people came out of the woodwork to help, including a lot of dairy farmers and graziers.”
On the back of being crowned the Legendairy Capital of NSW last month, the celebrations continue in Comboyne with the imminent opening of the new building, which will house an art gallery and host weddings and other celebrations for years to come.
For more information on Comboyne, LEGENDAIRY Capital of New South Wales, visit www.legendairy.com.au/dairy-talk/capital
For media and Legendairy inquiries please contact:
Mark Pearce – Media Manager, Dairy Australia
03 9694 3809 I 0423 783 756 I firstname.lastname@example.org
Suzi O’Dell — Communications and Engagement Manager, Farm Communities, Dairy Australia
03 9694 3718 I 0439 336 369 I email@example.com