Milk processing will return to the former dairy town of Girgarre after an absence of almost four decades, following a decision by ACM to build a new multi-million-dollar factory. The news has been welcomed by Girgarre residents who haven’t seen milk production in their town since Nestle shut the former Girgarre Cheese Factory site.
ACM plans to start work on the Curr Rd site in December, subject to planning approvals, with milk processing expected to start in September next year. ACM chairman Michael Auld said the factory could employ up to 35 people and process about 100 million litres of milk in the first year. Employment numbers could lift closer to 50 when cheesemaking production starts in the second year of operation and throughput increases to 200 million litres.
The company may recruit some experienced staff from the Rochester Murray Goulburn factory, which is shutting down soon. ACM, which has been recruiting organic dairy farmers recently, intends to install two spray dryers and a discrete processing system which will allow it to handle organic and non-organic processing concurrently. Mr Auld said the company’s focus was on establishing a milk pricing structure that removed some of the volatility for farmers and created a more stable income.
Last year the company finished with $5.30/kg milk solids, and this year was paying $5.76/kg.
“Over time we will be able to offer fixed price contracts over three years for a portion of farmer’s milk,” Mr Auld said.
He said the new factory would help suppliers get access to markets in Asia and domestically with value-added products such as specialty powders, retail butter, cream and cheese. He said the company believed there was a viable future in the dairy industry if stakeholders get the model right across the supply chain.