Some who rely on irrigation to survive are selling up, while others cut herds and take big financial hits

When the dairy farmer Shane Hickey calculated his hourly rate of pay at just $2.46 last year it prompted a wave of outrage and sympathy. Consumers vowed to change their purchasing habits to support small, independently processed milk instead of the $1-a-litre offerings in the major supermarkets.

But among other farmers, the conversation was very different. “I got quite a few phone calls from farmers asking me how I made $2.46,” Hickey said.

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