As fires sweep through Australian farmland, concern forms over the “viability” of dairy farms and milk supplies.

The Guardian reports that key dairy areas in East Gippsland, Victoria and the New South Wales south coast have been heavily impacted during the new year’s blaze. This comes as the industry battles severe drought and low prices.

Currently, the fresh milk supply remains unaffected in supermarkets, but the head of the NSW farmers’ body, Dairy Connect, Shaughn Morgan says, “It could have an impact, depending on the amount of milk that’s not collected,”. 

The President of the United Dairy farmers of Victoria, Paul Mumford, said information has been “reasonably sketchy” coming out of affected areas.

In addition to the fire damage to infrastructure and pastures, farmers are having issues bringing services back to the farm. The declaration of a state of emergency on Thursday brings hope that roads will reopen and farmers can bring in fodder for their livestock. 

“The cows have to be fed and the cows also have to be milked,” he said. “Some farms may not have been able to milk their cows since the fire went through their district.

Bega Chairman, Max Roberts, says it has been difficult for the milk processing company to collect the milk.

“If they’re not on fire, we can’t get to them,” he said. “There’ve been a number of farms that haven’t milked for up to 50 hours, 60 hours, and that’s an issue for cow health. ... It’s highly unusual to get a milk tanker turning up with a police escort but that’s what’s happening.”