BIG HEADACHE: Every way he turns, it seems Berry dairy farmer John Miller faces the prospect of disaster with the Berry bypass.AFTER “five years of hell” trying to save a dairy farm on Berry’s northern fringes, John Miller faces the prospect of doing it all again.
The proposed southern bypass of Berry goes right through his main farm and only a short distance from his dairy, leaving him confronting the possibility of his farm being unusable if the bypass is built.
“I don’t know how we’d get on,” Mr Miller said.
“I’d be battling to carry on down there. It’s just that big an obstacle I can’t see how to go on.”
With three of his four children keen to carry on the family farming tradition, Mr Miller was hoping to resurrect a disused dairy farm to Berry’s north so it could be passed on to the next generation.
However, the northern bypass route crosses the property and Mr Miller has been battling Roads and Maritime Services trying to ensure the farm’s viability.
“If we want to start milking there again, it all hinges on how much high ground we’re going to have when it floods,” he said.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be viable with what they’ve taken now.”
While negotiations over land for the northern bypass had caused plenty of heartache, Mr Miller said he preferred the northern route, which passed close to his home, to the southern route that “is going to affect my business quite dramatically”.
The southern route is also going to pass through Ralph Stewart’s farm, and Berry Rural Co-op chairman Paul Timbs said the impact of two key dairy farms could spell disaster for South Coast Milk.
Mr Timbs and Mr Miller started South Coast Milk a few years ago after the Dairy Farmers plant in Bomaderry closed down, giving the Shoalhaven community a local brand it could support in the way it had done for Dairy Farmers over many years.
With the southern bypass putting at risk two of the remaining seven dairy farms in the Berry area, Mr Timbs said the situation was worrying.
He said he “honestly believed” South Coast Milk was at risk.
“Our main concern is the viability of what remains of the dairy industry,” Mr Timbs said.
“At the end of the day they’re smashing through some prime dairy farms.”
Mr Timbs said concerns and uncertainty over the future of prime agricultural land and the bypass needed to be settled as soon as possible.
“People have had to put up with this for too long,” he said.
Mr Timbs questioned the viability of building a bypass through swamp land, saying he “wouldn’t accept anything less than a bridge”.
Mr Miller also worried about the effects of a bypass on natural water flows, predicting it would result in new areas being flooded.
“She’s going to have to be a hell of a well-designed turnout to not send water where it’s never been before,” he said.
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