Farm­ers form new dairy co-op

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS - By So­phie Bald­win ■ For more in­for­ma­tion, phone Eu­reka Dairy on 0456 741 517 or email: ad­min@eu­

A group of con­cerned farm­ers, for­merly known as United We Stand, has for­malised its com­mit­ment to the dairy in­dus­try and estab­lished a new co-op­er­a­tive — Eu­reka Dairy Co-op.

The co-op has been ap­proved by the Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion, which gives it the le­gal gov­er­nance re­quired to move for­ward with its goal of de­vel­op­ing a sus­tain­able milk price for the fu­ture of the in­dus­try.

More than 50 farm­ers with a milk pool of about 140 mil­lion litres are in­ter­ested in be­com­ing ac­tive mem­bers and the co-op is in the process of es­tab­lish­ing a mem­ber’s card to pro­vide dis­counts for ser­vices for both busi­ness and per­sonal use.

The five di­rec­tors are all north­ern Vic­to­rian dairy farm­ers and in­clude Mar­shall Ja­cobs (chair­man) from Rochester; Cheryl Hawken (sec­re­tary/trea­surer) from Echuca; Scott Som­merville from Tim­mer­ing; Chris Gam­ble from Bawawm; and in­terim di­rec­tor and spokesman Steve Hawken.

Mr Hawken said while the group had ap­peared to be quiet, there had been a lot of work go­ing on be­hind the scenes.

‘‘We have spent the last few months sort­ing out all the le­gal re­quire­ments and are now in a po­si­tion to move for­ward,’’ he said.

‘‘We re­main in ac­tive dis­cus­sions with pro­ces­sors both big and small, in­clud­ing a cou­ple of niche pro­ces­sors who have ap­proached us re­cently and we are con­fi­dent there will be some ac­tion in this space af­ter Christ­mas.

‘‘We are cur­rently build­ing a net­work of farm­ers and are happy to hear from any­one in­ter­ested in join­ing us, re­gard­less of how many cows you milk.

‘‘The only re­quire­ment is milk must be pre­mium, although we do have av­enues to help farm­ers who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing cell count is­sues.’’

He said the co-op had never lost sight of its ini­tial goal, which had al­ways been to re­ceive a fair and sus­tain­able milk price.

Mr Som­merville said even what he would call the ‘‘tra­di­tion­ally pos­i­tive farm­ers’’ were now feel­ing the pinch. ‘‘The in­dus­try is in a real mess,’’ he said. ‘‘The ta­bles have turned. In the old days tanker driv­ers wanted to be dairy farm­ers, now dairy farm­ers want to be tanker driv­ers.’’

The mem­ber’s card has al­ready had in­ter­est from re­tail­ers, in­clud­ing a dairy chem­i­cal com­pany of­fer­ing ser­vices and dis­counts and a live­stock pro­ces­sor.

The co-op is ex­plor­ing other op­por­tu­ni­ties in­clud­ing power, fer­tiliser and in­sur­ance, and hopes lo­cal busi­nesses like hair­dressers and cafes will jump on board.

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