We currently operate a dairy farm that runs about 145 head of cattle, which are a Freisian/Jersery cross. The dairy farm itself is on roughly 300 acres, which is situated in a valley five minutes out of the Picton township.
We built a milk processing plant, which is 100 metres from the dairy. The factory was completed and commissioned in March 2004. Our dairy supplies the factory with milk, which is processed according to the NSW Food Authority standards, it is sold in one, two and three litre recyclable bottles. We purchase milk from five other local farms as well as an organic farm in Nowra and Hannam Vale. We also produce yoghurt and cream. Visit Our Products for further information about exactly what we produce.
Our milk comes straight from our cows to the plant and then out to our customers (48 hour window). Milk is a bit like fruit, it bruises easily and the quality can be lowered if it is not treated carefully. Our milk is extremely fresh and therefore the shelf life is longer, up to sixteen days on the label but it actually keeps longer than that. We are constantly monitoring the quality of the feed and health of the cows to ensure that the milk produced is the best you can buy. We believe all these factors will combine to create a product that will make “the difference you can taste”.
In July 2000 the Australian Federal government deregulated the Australian Dairy Industry. This has resulted in massive changes across the board. One of these outcomes has been a drop in the farmgate price to dairy farmers. Where we once 36/37c we were paid per litre, we are now be paid an average of 29c per litre. That takes into account seasonal prices. At this point in time we are actually being paid 27c per litre if you are on contract and 23c per litre if you aren’t. Combine this with one of the worse droughts that the eastern seaboard of Australia has ever experienced and you have a recipe for disaster. “One farmer who supplied CV got paid 20% more than he would of from the big companies in 2012. This allowed him to farm sustainably and improve his farm”.
The drought resulted in there being no on-farm pasture available for feed and most farmers having to buy it in. Wheat at one stage tripled in price and in fact was being shipped in from Western Australia and overseas. Most farming industries suffered similar sorts of impacts. However, in the case of eggs, lamb, beef and flour (to name a few) these costs were sometimes passed on to the consumer. In the case of milk this was not the case. In fact the price to farmers has been steadily dropping.
For many dairy farmers this has meant that it is time to sell up and move on. Usually their land is sold for housing blocks. When this happens the entire local community changes. Areas become more developed and less rural. Country life starts to slowly disappear.
We did not want this to happen to us or to Wollondilly. We had already sub-divided some of our precious farming land to pay for a generational family transfer. Enough! We felt it was time to take control.
For us this meant value adding to our raw milk product. Why sell our milk for next to nothing to a big processor when we could bottle it ourselves and start making farming a viable way of life again?
And not just us. If you support us and make Country Valley milk a success then we can start buying other local farmers’ milk to bottle and pay them a better price too. That way we can all ensure that Wollondilly keeps the rural way of life that you live here to enjoy. If our farms go, so does the lifestyle.