To put it politely, Maleny Dairies has had an interesting year. We are sure all of you can say the same, at the very least. We here, have family and friends who have had their lives horribly affected by COVID, through health and business loss and we extend our prayers to all of Queensland to never give up.
We last updated you with our new label and a price increase in store, which begun on the 1st of March 2020. Since then, a lot has happened. Unfortunately for us, we were captured by the Code of Conduct Legislation designed to stop the big processors from continuing to treat our Farmers poorly. We have had to do the right thing by our farmers ‘their way’, instead of our way, which has come at a significant cost in changes to our contract format. But at least everyone’s prices are published.
We believe that we are the highest paying processor that has to work under this new legislation. We believe that we are the only processor in Queensland (and we hope Australia) under the code of conduct to both provide our published price for more than one year and we are not relying on various drought and retail levies to support the price we pay our farmers. This means a farmer can sign with us for 5 years and we commit to our current published price for that whole term. With levies that can come and go or other processors relying on worldly commodity prices, the others are saying to farmers you are committed to us for 5 years but we will only commit to a fair price for this year.
Can you guess what is still happening? Our Queensland Dairy Farmers are still leaving the industry. Whilst the Queensland Dairy Organisation announced (about a month ago) that the number of Queensland Dairy Farmers is below 300, we think the number is as low as the 260 – 280 range. We also think a lot more Farmers will leave in the next 2 months as the foreign owned processors continue in their desire to import milk from Victoria. Those processors still state that they ‘proudly support’ the most Farms in Queensland. Well 20 years ago there were 1,545 Queensland Dairy Farms. So we say they have completely toasted 83% of our farmers on their watch!
We here at Maleny Dairies are talking to you with a lot more conviction and passion this year, because we know that the Queensland Dairy Farmer does not have to go under. No one in Queensland has to hopelessly watch all our farmers and think that it is out of their hands to help. With your support we are now 11 farms strong and we are about to sign on another 2 farming families. One of the families was otherwise selling the dairy and getting out of the industry. They will try us for 12 months and see what happens. We are quietly confident that they will stay in the industry and the next generation in their family will thrive in the industry.
Our tiny, inefficient factory can make this happen. We are finishing our upgrades this year. Our business model is designed to be stronger the bigger we get.
We attended the Senate Enquiry of the Dairy Industry last week. We heard that 2 billion litres of milk is imported into Australia each year in the form of cheese and other products. We know that foreign owned multinationals are important to our economy in many industries. Clearly though, they don’t work for the Queensland Dairy Industry.
We are working very hard to find a way to support as many Queensland Dairy Farmers as we can. By that we mean to take them on. If we could guarantee sales at the major retail stores we would take them all on tomorrow. We can’t so we have to grow at a careful rate so as not to wreck what we already have. It sounds arrogant but what we have with you, the people of Queensland, buying our milk, works. If you think we are doing the wrong thing we know you will stop buying our milk and we will go down with the ship. But you ARE buying our milk and we believe that you want us to keep working hard and grab as many more farmers out there as we can and not just look after our own backyard.
We are developing a strategy to go wider and broader into other parts of Queensland. Once we have the wrinkles ironed out we will let you know, we will have a go, and we hope it works.
Take Care Everyone – Queensland Dairy Farmers for Queenslanders!!!
© Maleny Dairies 2020