The Chinese owner of Australia's biggest and oldest dairy farming business is scrambling to sell off parts of the business after an investigation was launched into the conditions of farms.
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Image: ABC Rural: Hugh Hogan

The Van Dairy Group, which owns 23 farms in Tasmania, has been negotiating the sale of up to 10 of its 23 farms to a Melbourne-based investment manager, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

This comes after the Environmental Protection Agency launched an investigation following the revelation of shocking conditions on the farms, including claims of animal welfare abuse and overstocking of cattle that is causing effluent systems to fail and damaging nearby waterways.

A series of confidential documents, photographs and accounts from employees and locals showed the conditions deteriorated after the 2016 takeover by China’s Moon Lake.

But the bigger scandal is why it took so long for authorities to step up and do their job.

The shocking state of some of the farms, including the overcrowding of animals and serious effluent problems, didn’t happen overnight. This was five years in the making. It has left the local community up in arms and the problems continue.

An employee, who asked not to be named, described the past week as farcical. “The TDIA [Tasmanian Dairy Industry Authority] has been running around some farms and the only way to describe it is a shit show.”

He said he was disgusted that it took authorities so long to take action.

“Why did it take so long to get off their arses and come down? There’s still a lot to do to get this mess up. It’s about a band-aid solution at the moment,” he said.

THE Dairy Industry Code of Conduct has brought about a “significant culture change” within the dairy sector and helped increase competition at the farmgate, according to Australian Competition & Consumer Commission deputy chair Mick Keogh.

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