Low Australian retail milk prices forcing farms close gates

Low Australian retail milk prices forcing farms to close their gates

Two dairy farms in the Queensland Scenic Rim region have closed in the past few weeks as consumers return to buying cheap milk decimating the dairy industry.

A year on from the highly publicised boycott of supermarket milk, farmers are closing their gates.

Milkinfridge_1cowsmo2017Queensland farmer Greg Dennis of 4 Real Milk near Beaudesert, Qld, said farms near his property in the Scenic Rim had been forced to close with one farm last week selling off its herd of 250 milking cows.

Affectionately known as “Farmer Gregie”, he championed the milk boycott last year driving a tractor 2000 kilometres around Queensland to raise awareness.

“I was so concerned about this last year, I jumped in a tractor and drove 2000 kilometres in July to the Atherton Tableland just to keep the conversation going,” he said.

With farms dying around him, Farmer Gregie has stepped the awareness campaign up a gear launching a new book, Holy Cow, to try to educate consumers about the importance of spending an extra dollar or two to support farmers.

“People were boycotting dollar milk and they did it for a month, two months, then slipped back to exactly what they were doing,” he said.

“If you are spending less than $2 per litre for milk you are helping to financially break a farmer somewhere in Australia.”

Member for Beaudesert Jon Krause said the $1 milk war continues to decimate the dairy industry across Australia.

“$1 a litre milk is the curse of the Queensland dairy industry.
“It is the direct cause behind the exit from the industry since 2011 of numerous excellent dairy farmers from our region.
“The flow-on impact to our local economy has seen jobs on and off-farm disappear forever.

“Local communities can back their own farmers by buying local milk if they can, or buying branded milk otherwise, not the $1 a litre milk that is decimating the industry.”

In the past decade, nearly half of all the operational dairy farms in Beaudesert and Logan regions have closed.

Farmer Gregie, who was named Australia’s Dairy Farmer of the Year in 2014, said: “We need consumers to know the truth.
“They are back buying cheap milk and we’re back in crisis. We’re back to where we were before the milk war started last year.”

During the peak of the cheap milk boycott last year, Farmer Gregie saw milk sales soar by 75 per cent.
The spike didn’t last, plummeting just a fortnight later.

Farmer Gregie opened his farm to the public last month to launch his book and give the public a better understanding of farm life.

In his book, he writes: “The choice of locally produced milk will disappear if we don’t support our local dairyfarmers and this is already happening”.

A fifth-generation dairy farmer, he wrote the book Holy Cow to give farmers a voice and to share what it is really like to live on the land and the daily battles just to survive.

“My really big passion today is to reconnect city with country so consumers understand there is a cost to their decision,” he said.

“Quality milk has real value to our health and our local economies.”

Mr Krause said: “We need to tell retailers, processors and farmers that we want a future where our kids and grandkids can drink fresh milk.
“The only way to do this is at the checkout.”

The latest farm closure comes just weeks before Australia’s consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, brings down its findings from two separate inquiries into the dairy industry.

 

Source: The Australian Dairy Farmer

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