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Traveston dairy family still living in limbo on govt lease

The Trace family: (from left) Michelle holding Noah, Matthew, Hayden, Jacob and (front) Bryce and Liam.
The Trace family: (from left) Michelle holding Noah, Matthew, Hayden, Jacob and (front) Bryce and Liam. Contributed

THE issues surrounding the Traveston Dam has been a very unsettling and worrying time for Matthew and Michelle Trace and family on their Moy Pocket dairy farm.

The Dam issues could finally reach a conclusion with government land sales in the near future.

Matthew's parents moved to the Moy Pocket farm in 1968 from the South Burnett and were looking for a reliable water supply to continue with a long family history of dairying.

After finishing high school Matthew tried university for a bit, but with looming industry deregulation came back to the farm to help his parents.

At that stage the farm had about 100 milkers and the numbers have since been gradually increased to about 250.

Being able to lease an adjoining property that was sold to the Dam doubled the effective farm area, but having their own property purchased by the government and leased back has meant that development plans have been on hold for a while.

"If we wanted to do any development work we had to have an inspection and get approval," Matthew said. "We did manage a new dairy, silage pits and a centre pivot irrigation system."

The years of operating under leases is coming to an end with the government selling off land purchased for the Dam.

"We are now in the position of hoping to buy back the home farm plus the neighbour lease land," Mathew said. "We think it is all in hand but rather unsettling as we are not sure if it will all work out."

Matthew said that they are increasing replacement heifer numbers to be able to fit repayments for the land purchases.

"At present our focus is on securing ownership," he said. "It has all been a very stressful time as all we could do was basic maintenance."

If everything goes according to plan, new improvements include a larger silage feed out shed to give all cows an even chance of getting at the feed, and a loafing shed where the cows can rest in very hot conditions or during extensive wet weather periods.

"The river is good but it does flood and the shed will be a help then as most of the property goes under in a good flood," Matthew said.

Matthew said that being a dairy farmer meant being a cow person, you have to be patient and think like a cow, there will be trouble in the dairy if you try to make the cows think and act like people.

Traces supply Norco because prices are comparable, but they like the attitude to farmers and marketing of the Co-op.

With five boys already Matthew and Michelle are hopeful of being able to continue the Trace line in the dairy industry.

Topics:  agriculture dairy farmer farmer gympie traveston

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