VICTORIA’S newest dairy co-operative members say they have learnt valuable lessons in “what not to do” from the downfall dairy co-op Murray Goulburn.
By: SIMONE SMITH and KATH SULLIVAN
Source: The Weekly Times
Last week, Mountain Milk Co-operative announced it will start producing its own brand of dairy products from July 1.
The co-operative, which is looking to sign up a processor for its 18-20 million litres annual production, comprises four dairy farming families from Victoria’s North East who aim to increase the price they receive for their milk.
Scott and Belinda McKillop milk 360 cows at Dederang and said the co-operative group members shared information and knowledge between businesses previously.
“We know each other’s production systems,” said Scott, and “have a strong history of friendship”.
Scott said the co-op was about trying to take back some control for the farmers.
“We will try to realise the true value of what we produce and use the value of our area,” he said.
As “reasonably low-cost producers”, Scott said the group would explore savings through collective bargaining in areas such as insurance, power and finance.
Mountain Milk Co-operative chairman Stuart Crosthwaite, who milks 400 cows at Kergunyah South, expected to be compared with MG, but insisted like every other business it came down to “execution and skill, how you go about it”.
“What have we learnt from MG? It is about treating your members like you would like to be treated, that’s number one,” Stuart said.
“And don’t get too ahead of yourself.
“I think our focus is clearly and, at the moment, solely on the North East, the Alpine valleys, and creating an outcome for the farmers that are currently producing milk.
“We are going to start investing in the community and start trying to grow the next generation of farmers.”
Stuart said there was huge potential for dairy farmers in the North East. “We’ve seen a 26 per cent increase in milk production in last decade here — across the north there’s been a 30 per cent decline,” he said.