Dairy farmers on the Atherton Tableland are optimistic the return of Lion Dairy and Drinks to Australian hands will have a positive effect on the industry.
Bega Cheese has been confirmed as the new buyers of the Japanese-owned company, with the purchase of assets including the Dairy Farmers plant in Malanda.
Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation state councillor and Millaa Millaa farmer James Geraghty said dairy farmers were hopeful the buy-out would allow the industry to expand on the Tablelands.
“It’s a good outcome, they’re an Australian owned dairy specific company.
“It’s probably going to take Bega a while to get their mind around what they have bought, they are in NSW and Victoria but once they take this on they will be in Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia so it’s a much larger geographic footprint.
“Some of those areas have their own issues so we don’t expect anything to change to a great degree any time soon.”
Mr Geraghty said dairy farmers were optimistic for the future despite the difficulties they have faced.
Dairy farm numbers on the Tableland have shrunk from 268 in 1981 to 41 supplying the Malanda milk factory today.
Mr Geraghty said 43 million litres of milk was produced on the Tablelands last year, amid tough drought conditions.
“Last year was tough, the weather wasn’t helpful and the cost of supplementary feed last year was astronomical.
“Normally we feed cottonseed and that went from $350 or $400 a tonne to $700.
“Most farmers feed grain every day and that jumped from in the $400s to $600s so that mix of factors made it pretty tough to produce milk at a profit.”
Mr Geraghty said conditions had improved this year, and production would be up on 2019, but said the district was starting to dry out once again.