Rob & Ann Cork: Diversifying Dairy

Rob & Ann Cork, the owners of Wittacork Dairy Cottages, have been dairying for 24 years. Nestled in the stunning landscape surrounding Lake Baroon, the Cork’s farm has seen every twist and turn of the dairy industry and endured despite it all. Rob’s branch of the Cork family have been dairying in Maleny for over a century, going back to Rob’s great-grandfather. Rob’s father, Aub, owned the farm that is now part of the Wittacork Dairy, and with his twin brother Clarence, once owned the town milk run during the years surrounding world war two as well.

To reach this secluded farm stay, guests must first traverse a winding dirt road which offers stunning, and distracting, views of the Sunshine Coast hinterland. The Wittacork Dairy Cottages were born from the need to diversify after deregulation of the dairy industry occurred in 2000. Rob is sure that deregulation was the hardest thing the farm has faced, adding that Anne had to work full time, off farm for a few years, because the farm didn’t support the family at that time.

“It changed the whole dynamic of the industry … The Hopper’s built a processing plant and we put in cottages.” Apparently, everybody who comes here wants to see where their food comes from and hear the farmers’ side of the Dairy story. In fact, the number one question the Cork’s get from tourists is what is ‘permeate free’ milk? Rob’s response, ‘Sounds like milk to me!’ is typical of his no-nonsense attitude to marketing in the dairy industry.

Wittacork Dairy Cottages, being a 15 minute drive from Maleny Dairies farm, allows people to see for themselves the process from the cow to the bottle. Rob says this is beneficial for the farmers and for the consumers, as this rekindles a lost link between farm and table. Rob believes the big processors have lost this connection. “They reckon consumers don’t want cream on their milk but I’ve never met anyone who has said that.”

Supplying Maleny Dairies & The Future

Supplying Maleny Dairies was an easy decision for the Cork family, who say Maleny Dairies is better than any other company we’ve been with. Rob says there has been a slow strangulation of farm gate price over the last 15 years with the ‘big end of town’ deliberately stripping the dollar from the farmer. Anne says they didn’t want to continue supplying a large processor and would have shut the dairy down, if the option to supply Maleny Dairies had not presented itself.

Rob and Ann say they are more interested in dairy than they have been in 15 years and would really like the opportunity to produce more milk and have purchased more cattle and a property next door for this purpose. “Resurgence of local milk is making a difference to us and I assume is making a difference to others around us. It’s been a fantastic year and we have been able to employ another person to help on the farm.”

Rob acknowledges Maleny Dairies’ fair treatment of its farmers: “People wonder how this little company can go from strength to strength, it’s because people know they treat the farmers properly.”

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