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Australian Dairy Farmer Looking for New Dairy Processor
May 26, 2016

Western Australian dairy farmer Dale Hanks says he has just five months to find a home for his milk, after dairy processor Brownes confirmed it was not going to renew his contract when it expired in September.

Mr Hanks’s dairy farm is at Harvey in the state’s south-west. He milks 350 to 360 cows, producing just under 3 million litres of milk a year.

Mr Hanks and three other WA dairy farmers were courted by Brownes two years ago and offered financial incentives to leave their current processors to supply Brownes instead.

A week ago, Brownes sent an email to the four dairy farmers to confirm their milk was not required after September.

Mr Hanks said the email was brief, little more than one line.

“‘Hope this clarifies it; we’re terminating your contract and will not be picking your milk up after the 30th September’, and that was it,” Mr Hanks said.

“I thought there was a bit of an unwritten rule in the dairy industry that you always picked up people’s milk, no matter what, and we haven’t had that option.”

Mr Hanks said the situation had taken an incredible toll on his family and farm employees.

“It’s pretty hard at the moment,” he said.

“We’ve also had to ring up some suppliers and say we’re cancelling orders. We were about to spend a fair bit on infrastructure, some grain milling equipment and we’ve cancelled that for now.

“All capital spend is out and we’ll just see how we go.

“We’ve got a really good team of people who work for us and we’ll look after them.”

Mr Hanks said the state’s other two processors do not want his milk either because they do not have the markets for it.

“We’ll continue to talk with them and see if something can happen out of it, but at this stage, we’re farming with no direction,” he said.

Mr Hanks said he did not believe there was any chance of Brownes changing its mind and offering a contract but he said he was not really interested in dealing with the company.

“To be honest, I don’t think I really want to deal with them, the way they’re dealing with people anyway,” he said.

“I guess the future is [that] our cows may be sold or may be culled or … I’m not sure.

“At this point, it’s business as usual until we get to the death knell.”

The ABC approached Brownes for interview, but it was refused.

Source – ABC Rural Australia


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