TWO dairy farms in the Scenic Rim in southern Queensland have closed in the past few weeks and dairy farmer and author, Greg Dennis, blames consumer preference for cheap milk.
A year on from the highly publicised boycott of supermarket milk, spurred on by an impassioned plea by Waleed Aly on The Project, farmers are closing their gates.
Queensland farmer Greg Dennis of 4 Real Milk near Beaudesert in southern Queensland said farms near his property in the Scenic Rim have been forced to close with one farm last month selling off its herd of 250 milking cows.
Mr Dennis drove a tractor 2000 km from his farm to the Atherton Tableland (northern Queensland) last year to raise awareness of the damage $1/litre milk was doing to the local industry.
“I did it just to keep the conversion going,” Mr Dennis said.
With farms dying around him, he has written a new book, Holy Cow, to try to educate consumers about the importance of spending an extra dollar or two to support farmers.
“People were boycotting dollar milk and they did it for a month, two months, then slipped back to exactly what they were doing,” he said.
“If you are spending less than $2 per litre for milk you are helping to financially break a farmer somewhere in Australia,” he said.
In the past decade, nearly half of all the operational dairy farms in Beaudesert and Logan regions have closed.
“We need consumers to know the truth,” Mr Dennis said.
“They are back buying cheap milk and we’re back in crisis. We’re back to where we were before the milk war started last year.”
During the peak of the cheap milk boycott last year, Mr Dennis said milk sales soared by 75 per cent. The spike didn’t last, plummeting just a fortnight later.
He opened his farm to the public last month to launch his book and give the public a better understanding of farm life.
In his book, he writes: “the choice of locally-produced milk will disappear if we don’t support our local dairy farmers and this is already happening”.
A fifth generation dairy farmer, Holy Cow also shares what it is really like to live on the land and the daily battles just to survive.
“My really big passion today is to reconnect city with country so consumers understand there is a cost to their decision.”
“Quality milk has real value to our health and our local economies,” he said.