North East co-op wants to supply Mountain Milk mid-next year
VICTORIA’S strong links with dairy co-operatives have been revived with the formation of a new milk co-operative in the North East.
The move by Kiewa Valley farming families, with the help of the federal government’s $13.8 million ‘Farming Together’ program, comes at a time when dramatic changes in the dairy business are having major effects on communities such as Kiewa-Tangambalanga.
The founding group includes four farming families which together produce 18 million litres per year.
They last week registered Mountain Milk Cooperative Ltd and plan to have their new label on retail shelves mid-next year.
Fifth-generation farmer Stuart Crosthwaite, who family farm runs 400 milking cows at Kergunyah South, is the chair of the new co-operative.
He said his family, along with three others, had sought assistance from the Commonwealth’s ‘Farming Together’ program because they wanted to create a more positive outlook for the local dairy industry.
Late last month Murray Goulburn Co-operative, which has long operated the Kiewa milk processing plant but has now shut most of it, announced plans to sell its assets to Canadian-based Saputo Dairy Australia for $1.3 billion.
“We felt it was time to act,” Mr Crosthwaite said.
“As farmers we want to have more control of our future and not be directed by outside interests.”
The members of the founding group Mr Crosthwaite and his wife Sarah, Patrick and Kerrie Glass, Scott and Belinda McKillop and Ian and Alice Holloway.
“We are the children and grandchildren of the people who began Kiewa Milk, and who established a proud tradition of co-operative-based dairy farming in the Alpine Valleys region,” Mr Crosthwaite said.
“We want to revive that tradition.
“We are planning to introduce a range of initiatives over the next six months which will build an even stronger link between our farms and our consumers, so people can trust their milk is coming from some of the best dairies in Australia.”
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