Kiewa Valley farmers, assisted by the Federal Government’s Farming Together program, have registered the Mountain Milk Cooperative Ltd.
The founding group, comprising four farming families accounting for 18m liters, plan to have their first milk on the shelves by mid-2018.
Keeping local control
The new co-op’s chairperson is Stuart Crosthwaite. He said his family, along with three others, sought assistance from the Farming Together program because they wanted to create a more positive outlook for the local industry.
Late last month Murray Goulburn announced plans to sell the co-op’s assets to Canadian-based Saputo Dairy Australia for A$1.3bn (US$1bn).
“We felt it was time to act,” Crosthwaite said.
“As farmers we want to have more control of our future, and not be directed by outside interests.”
The founding group comprises Stuart and Sarah Crosthwaite, Patrick and Kerrie Glass, Scott and Belinda McKillop and Ian and Alice Holloway.
Crosthwaite said the cooperative is planning to introduce a range of initiatives over the next six months to build a strong link between farms and consumers, “so people can trust their milk is coming from some of the best dairies in Australia.”
He said the co-op planned to start small.
“We will be looking to grow by taking on new members, but we need time to organize the business, create partnerships and to build a solid foundation to grow from.”
Farming Together program director Lorraine Gordon said the Farming Together program aims to help farmers claim better margins and have more say in their supply chain as well as building a stronger stake in the long-term sustainability of their enterprises.
The Farm Co-operative and Collaboration Program is being delivered by Southern Cross University on behalf of the Australian Government.