Group of dairy farmers plan to sell milk directly to manufacturer

A group of three West Gippsland dairy farmers may bypass the major dairy processors and sell milk directly to a Melbourne yoghurt and cheese maker.

The ABC reports that Picnic Dairy Foods Managing Director Ibrahim Ozdemir met with farmers, Andrew Russell, Trevor Mills and Michael Perry at a property in Longwarry North on Monday and outlined the proposal.

The company currently uses about 80,000 litres of milk a week which it buys from a milk trader.

Ozdemir said he wants to pay the farmers about $6 per kilogram milk solids, which is significantly more than the $4.75 and $5 per kilogram they currently get from Fonterra.

Fonterra and the other major processor Murray Goulburn recently slashed their farmgate prices without warning and left suppliers in a difficult financial position.

“As a company our philosophy has been to support farmers and pay them prices they deserve,” Ozdemir told the ABC, adding that the big processors had given them “an unfair deal”.

Mills said he liked the proposal Picnic Dairy Foods is offering. “I’ve got no ties to Fonterra at all,” he said.

“I’ve given them my loyalty for 20 years and as far as I’m concerned they’ve lost my loyalty now.”

Meanwhile, as the ABC reports, the Victorian Government is considering offering council rates relief to dairy farmers who are coping with the low milk price.

Campaspe Mayor Leigh Wilson wrote to Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford and suggested the measure. He pointed out that similar measures have been taken in the past to assist farmers during times of drought.

The Victorian Opposition is backing the proposal.