Top milk quality

Producing high quality milk, and recognising it, is important for DFMC.

Well done to the suppliers below, led by Ray and Shirleen of Loxby Brown Swiss, for the high-quality milk produced this year so far.

The best five Bulk Milk Cell Counts (BMCC) for the year to date, based on the average of 10 day periods from each region are:

Loxby Brown Swiss Victoria Ray Perkins & Shirleen Evans Oxley 83,388
Glencoe Estates NSW Steve Raison Kiama 109,691
Manna Farm Holsteins SA Ian & Nikki Wilcox Yankalilla 113,823
Elmhurst Trust Vic Barton Family Kancoona 114,823
McGregor Farming FNQ Malcom & Jane McGregor Malanda 125,398

Last year’s quality award winners Ian and Nikki Willcocks

Social distancing, regular sanitation protects Victorian dairy from COVID-19

Northern Victorian suppliers Bernice and Scott Lumsden are taking no chances with COVID-19 on their busy 600-cow farm at Leitchville.

“Autumn is perhaps now our busiest time of year and we really couldn’t afford to have anyone of our team contract the virus,” said Bernice.

The Lumsdens were quick to react, enforcing measures to protect their workers and maintain food safety standards.

“We practised social distancing pretty much from the get-go and have kept adopting the recommended practices as they are announced, Bernice said. “Having a rotary dairy means that milkers are not in contact during milking, which reduces food safety risks.”

“We regularly check if anyone is showing cold or flu symptoms.”

To prevent possible contamination the Lumsdens have conducted weekly staff meetings outside of the staffroom and implemented most of the COVID-19 protocols suggested on the Dairy Australia website.

“We’ve set up hand sanitizing points using our own mix of methylated spirits and glycerine, with glove stations in the vat room,” Bernice said.

“We also sanitize the outlets on the vat and door handles each day.”

A staff member who has watched the Dairy Australia webinar and studied the recommended protocols online has been assigned to ensuring that the correct practices are followed.

“Everyone is aware of the tanker times and we give the vat room a wide berth generally while the milk is collected,” said Bernice.

“Scott and one of our workers share a tractor to do our feed mixers so it has to be disinfected between users as well.”

Employees are also encouraged to carry a copy of their pay slip with them in the event they have to prove they are part of an essential service when travelling to or between farm properties.

Like a lot of northern Victorian suppliers, the Lumsdens are not only busy with regular farm duties but also operating at full speed getting pastures and crops in the ground for the season ahead.

“We’ve got most of our inputs organised which is good, but our biggest concern is losing any labour to the virus at this time of the year, be it ourselves or an employee.”

DFMC loans help farmers plan for future

Jim Dealy and his son Greg

Numurkah supplier Jim Dealy has welcomed the changes to the DFMC loans eligibility, which now give members the opportunity to borrow funds for everyday business proposals, rather than just adverse circumstances.

Jim and his wife Barbara, along with sons Ryan and Greg, will milk nearly 1200 cows on their 3500 acres at Numurkah this season.

The Dealys have used DFMC loans over the last two years to strategically purchase both hay and temporary water.

“We purchased 500 megs of water in March 2019 that set our pastures up well,” Jim said. “When the rain kick started in May we were well advanced.”

“Then in spring when water was too expensive, we locked in our hay supplies to see us through the summer.”

Jim says the DMFC loans were essential in planning for the future.

“Both times we were able to use the DFMC loans to lock in a price to make sure we had what we needed squared away.

“It’s put us in a pretty good position this year and now we hope to benefit from the high milk prices for the rest of the season.”

Like many farmers, the Dealys have become frustrated at how long banks can take to gather information and assess a loan proposal.

“Farmers know a good deal when they see it – we’ve got numbers running around in our head all the time,“ Jim said.

“So when an opportunity presents to lock in an input at the right price, it’s good to know we can make an application and get funds quickly.

“It feels like we’re putting a case to people who actually understand what we’re talking about.”

Always a glass half-full sort of farmer, Jim is confident that the dairy industry can ride out the coronavirus crisis in reasonable shape.

“Farmers are pretty fortunate in that we can go about our business pretty much as usual and there is still demand for what we are producing – and we still get paid for it!”

While Jim acknowledges the potential for prices to retract in the coming year, he is still optimistic about dairying in the Goulburn Valley.

“An average season and a bit more allocation would see us through,” he reckons. “But if we could get to $6.50, it would still be pretty handy.”

Further information about DFMC Supplier loans can be found at https://dfmc.org.au/services/

Farm loan scheme broadened

The DFMC Board has recently decided to broaden DFMC’s Farm Loan scheme to include a new category for business productivity. Previously, the scheme only made loans available to farmers facing extreme climatic conditions – like a drought or a disaster such as a flood.

The new loan category has been named the Business Productivity Support loan and is to ensure farmers can take advantage of business opportunities to maximise the farm productivity by, for example, forward contracting or meeting payment terms for feed purchases. Typical loan approval turnaround times are very quick, and funds are made available to suppliers promptly.

Unlike the Climatic Conditions loans which have declared qualifying factors, the Business Productivity Support loans require suppliers to complete a Dairy Australia Cash Flow to demonstrate considered business decision making.

DFMC Regional Managers will assist with the completion of the Cash Flow and will ensure confidentiality. The Board will be advised that it has been completed to the RM’s satisfaction.

For Business Productivity Support loans, the maximum loan amount is either 50% of a member’s share capital in the Co-operative, or 50% of the average net monthly milk payment based on the previous twelve months (whichever is higher).

Director Bernice Lumsden was particularly keen to see the new loan category implemented. After previous seasons where feed costs have leapt up and traditional sources of hay or grain have been unreliable, being able to lock in volumes and prices is crucial in farm planning and management.

For details and conditions visit: http://dfmc.org.au/services/loans/

Australia Day awards recognise former DFMC Chair

Former DFMC Chair, Duncan McInnes has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the Australia Day Honours this year. The medal recognises Australians who have demonstrated service worthy of particular recognition.

Duncan was recognised for his service to the dairy industry, agricultural show societies and the community.

He described receiving the award as a very humbling and proud moment. He thanked his wife, Mary, and daughters, Megan, Heather, Kirsten and Ruth for supporting him.

“They missed out on different things, family life and such, from the amount of time I put into dairy organisations,” he said. “It was a downside for them at times, but credit to them.”

Duncan, who has lived in Radford in the Scenic Rim region of south-east Queensland his whole life, runs 500 milking cows that produce around four million litres of milk a year.

Duncan’s community spirit and involvement started in his teenage years when he joined his local rural youth club at age 17.

“I’ve always worked,” he said. “I enjoyed helping out. It was probably a flow on from rural youth, that started off the community service side of things.”

In 1970 Duncan became a member of the Queensland Dairy Farmers’ Organisation and has spent the past 50 years serving the dairy community through various local, state and national industry organisations.

Duncan was Director of DFMC at its inception in 2004 until 2017 and Chairman from 2013 to 2017.

“The idea of the DFMC when it started was to look out for the farmers and make sure their voices are heard. And still today DFMC is representing its members, like in milk pricing negotiations.

“Looking after farmers is the name of the game. It’s important that all of their voices are heard.”

Duncan has been a Councillor in the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland since 2011. He is a member of several committees, and he is Chairman of the Dairy Cattle and Goat Committees.

“Some people in the dairy industry are doing it tough at the moment with the different conditions around Australia, but I believe they’ll get through it and live to fight another day. We been through some rough patches, and hopefully it’s a bit brighter moving forward.”

DFMC representation on Dairy Consultative Committee

The new mandatory Dairy Industry Code of Conduct (the Code) came into effect on January 1, 2020, based on the recommendations from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiry into the Australian dairy industry. The Code aims to improve the clarity and transparency of contracting and trading between dairy farmers and processors.
To aid in communicating and implementing the Code, the ACCC has established the Dairy Consultative Committee comprised of representatives from across the dairy industry.
DFMC is proud to have Tony Burnett on the committee representing both DFMC and its members, and dairy farmers more broadly.
Tony has been involved in the dairy industry almost all his life and has been the DFMC Regional Manager for NSW and Queensland for the past six years. So, when DFMC was looking for a representative to nominate to the committee, Tony was an obvious choice.
“I believe that we should all be involved in our industries,” Tony said. “Our industries don’t operate just by people doing their normal day-to-day jobs. We need people to get involved beyond the farm gate.”
Tony’s experience in contracts and his interest in developing competitive milk pricing models made him an ideal candidate.
Joining him on the committee is a mixture of representatives from other dairy farmer, interest and advocacy groups like the Australian Dairy Products Federation, Dairy Australia and Dairy Connect.
The committee first met in November 2019 and will meet quarterly over the next year.
“The idea of the consultative committee is to help the ACCC communicate to both farmers and milk processors what their obligations are under the Code,” said Tony.
Tony believes the Code will result in a lot more transparency for farmers and processors.
“A big change that farmers will see is that they’ll be operating in an environment where they have guaranteed minimum pricing for the terms of their agreement,” he said. “Personally, I think that there will be a lot more transparency, because all standard form agreements will be published publicly. So effectively, we will have a lot more transparency on pricing over time.”
Tony’s role on the committee is voluntary and has involved a lot of reading to become familiar with the Code so he can best represent the interests of DFMC members.
“Knowing the code inside out is a really important part of what DFMC does and what we will do into the future,” said Tony. “We act on behalf of farmers and have their best interests at heart. It’s the core of what we do.”
DFMC intends to hold a round of meetings this year to help explain and guide farmers through the changes introduced by the Code. For now, more information about the Code can be found on the ACCC website: https://www.accc.gov.au/business/industry-codes/dairy-code-of-conduct

DFMC farmers face fires, offer helping hands

This bushfire season was like no other. It has ravaged our landscape and devastated communities. Our thoughts go out to members of our community who have been faced with the threat of fires and have had to make difficult choices. There are hundreds of stories of loss and hope out there, but here are just a few from members of the DFMC community.

Challenging conditions meant difficult decisions

The Abbeyard Bushfire near Mount Buffalo in north-eastern Victoria caused some stressful moments for Whorouly South suppliers John and Elise Pethybridge, and Tim and Caroline Walpole.

Burning for over two weeks the fire, which had already threatened dairy properties in the King River Valley, swept over the Mount Emu range, spitting embers to within three kilometres of the Pethybridges’ dairy.

Elise and the three children evacuated to nearby Wangaratta as unpredictable winds in the valleys and hills presented fire fighters with new fronts over several days.

John, together with many locals, supported the CFA and Parks Victoria firefighters with a fleet of utes equipped with slip on tanks.

“The bulldozers and strike teams did a terrific job containing the main blaze while we worked at putting out the spot fires caused by the embers,” John said. “It was our most significant fire event here in the last 30 years.”

Further down the road Kane Lamperd, who sharefarms Wild Dog Creek Dairies for Tim and Caroline Walpole, had taken the precaution of drying the herd off ten days earlier than planned as the fires approached from the southwest.

“We had seen from the Bega fires how tough it was for farmers with cows that needed milking after the fires had gone through, so it was a no-brainer really,” said Kane.

“Tim and I discussed it and, with things looking dicey, decided that not milking would give us more time to put towards protection if the fires got closer.”

Wild Dog Dairies experienced fire spotting in some of their paddocks, which they managed to control, and the fire front came within three kilometres of the property. Kane and Tim agreed that their decision to dry off their cows and focus on fire protection was a good one in the end.

Close call in Cudlee Creek

South Australian suppliers Col and Kath Juers also experienced extreme fire threat from the Cudlee Creek Fires before Christmas.

“I’ve been here 69 years, and this was the first direct threat from fire we’ve had on this farm,” Col said.

After decimating vineyards at the rear of the Juers’ picturesque Charleston farm, the fire burnt through 32 hectares of their back paddocks.

“Fortunately, we had already carted the hay from the back paddocks and there really wasn’t a lot to burn which helped us keep the fire away from the sheds and house,” Col said.

“We didn’t lose any stock – just boundary fencing mainly and, of course, some of our old shade trees, which is a real shame, but it could have been a lot worse.”

Keeping the area around the house irrigated and running their travelling irrigators during the blaze helped Col and Kath keep a check on potential ember attacks.

A fencing contractor, Col is in no hurry to replace the boundary fencing until the weather has cooled down a bit.

“It’s too hot at the moment and the ground’s too hard, I reckon we’re better off waiting until autumn.”

All twelve DFMC farms in the Adelaide Hills were affected by the fires, with many losing hay and silage but thankfully few stock losses.

Loads of support for fire-affected farmers

As bushfires ripped through the upper King Valley, Victoria, suppliers Justin and Brooke Evans experienced the smoke and haze in nearby Greta West.  Like most farmers in north-eastern Victoria, they understood the threat posed to both property and livestock this summer from the severe weather conditions.

A camping trip with some contractor friends from Winchelsea on the Ovens River saw a plan hatched to organise loads of donated hay to those impacted by the fires.

Meanwhile, fire swept through upper northeastern Victoria areas like Cudgewa and Corryong where the Evans have many friends and relatives.

The plan was put into motion upon returning home and word quickly spread. Soon local farmers from a variety of enterprises were dropping off hay and straw at the Evans’ property, while Justin arranged transport to the fire-affected areas around Corryong.

Local transport operators were more than happy to lend a hand, and before long the Evans realised they were going to have a significant amount of fodder to deliver.

“We didn’t have to do much really once word got out that we were donating hay and a truck to take it up there,” Brooke said.

“People were turning up with a few bales on a trailer or half a truck load – it was just amazing really.”

More transport assistance and extra hay came from the Evans’ Winchelsea friends and eventually around 400 bales were loaded onto a dozen trucks and delivered to affected properties in the Cudgewa and Corryong areas.

Hay was delivered to six dairies and 12 beef operations.

“We took a loader up to help with unloading as some guys lost tractors,” said Justin. “It was really appreciated that they didn’t have to find a way of unloading as well.

“The gratitude we were shown from people who received fodder was amazing and made the effort worthwhile.”

But the Evans aren’t planning on stopping any time soon, according to Justin. “We are now planning a second run in mid-February and we think we will have as much, if not more, hay donated as the first trip – already we have eight trucks lined up.”

Loading hay to deliver to fire-affected farmers

Awarding dairy excellence

Congratulations to all recipients of our 2018/19 milk quality awards.

Only farms with fewer than five demerit points are recognised with these awards, and this year DFMC is proud that farms that received the awards represented about two-thirds of our total milk pool.

National and SA Quality Award winners Ian and Nikki Willcocks with Regional Manager Dom Baxter.

The national winner was announced at the AGM in Kiama, NSW. The top award went to Manna Farms Holsteins from Yankalilla, South Australia. Ian and Nikki are no strangers to quality awards, having taken out the South Australia award two years ago. They say key to milk quality is doing the little things well and making sure cows are well fed.

The runner-up was MacArthur Stanham Holdings from Camden, NSW, who after missing out on featuring in the awards last year was determined to rise back up the ranks.

Interestingly both operations are located in urban fringe areas, with Manna Farms actually accessible via a street address, while the westward spread of Sydney and having suburban neighbours is something Adam and his team at MacArthur Stanham have to consider on a day-to-day basis.

In Far North Queensland, our regional awards were presented in conjunction with the Sub Tropical Dairy Dinner and attended by 80 local farmers and service providers. Our regional award was presented to Kevin & Sharron Collins and accepted by San Collins.

Other Far North Queensland winners were James & Sari Geraghty, Jane & Malcolm McGregor, the Kelso Family, Wayne & Kellie Dobe, Bob & Susie Daley, Col & Shelley Daley, Peter Veronica & Dennis English, David & Tonia Daley, Gavan Doull, JR & DR Daley Pty Ltd.

In South East Queensland, DFMC presented the certificates and awards at our end of year functions. In this region, approximately half of the total milk supply achieved at least Superior milk quality standards which is an exceptional result given such trying conditions over the past 12 to 24 months. This year’s South East Queensland winner was RL & SL Skyring and the runner-up was DA & CG Vonhoff. Our other milk quality certificate winners were: MJ & GJ Henry, OConnell Brothers, KJ Smith, Inverclyde Holdings, RL & LEM Brasington, PJ & SA Maher, Crouch Farming, Blackwood Family, Gerber Farms, Brown Family, Pukallus Family, MC & JM MacDonald.

Moving further south to NSW, our awards were presented at the recent AGM and end of year functions. Most regions of the state have experienced their driest 12-month period on record, and it is a testament to the many farms who continuously provide top quality milk, year in, year out. This year’s regional winner was the team from MacArthur Stanham Pty Ltd. Farm manager Adam Findlater accepted the NSW trophy and certificate. The NSW runner-up was the Graham Family of Beaulands Pty Ltd from Nowra. Other deserved  NSW certificate receivers were Jim Strong, WG & AJ Sherborne, WM Landers, Honey Park Pastoral Co, AN & LM Alley, LR Anderson & Sons, Michael Cole, The Finch Family, Craig Windsor, Bill & Sandra Wiliams, The Hayes Family, Con Watts, Bowman Family, Hurlstone Ag College, PB & SJ Chittick, The Herne & Russell Families, and Glencoe Estates – Marg, Peter & Steve Raisen.

In South Australia, the regional quality award winner was Ian and Nikki Willcocks from the renowned Manna Farm Holsteins of Yankalilla. The runner-up came from just up the road at Myponga – Jared and Megan King. Again, South Australia had experienced a tough year that culminated in a reasonable, but quick, spring and the focus on quality from the region’s suppliers throughout the season was admirable. Quality certificates were awarded to The Barlett Family Trust, A & D Dalitz, James & Chris Zerk, RG BI & KM Bond, IA & LC Gazzola, and Blinkbonnie Pty Ltd.

A dinner in Echuca for Victoria’s Northwestern suppliers was a most enjoyable evening. Director Bernice Lumsden accepted the runner-up award on behalf of her family’s operation JC & NT Smith. It’s been a tough year in the irrigation areas with low water allocation and a second year of well below average rainfall during the growing season. But as in other regions, the commitment of DFMC suppliers to maintaining quality shines through. Quality certificates went to IB, CA & RJ Simpson, DH & CJ Riley, GK & JM Ault, EM Brown & SF Fisicaro, MG & CA Hay & Son, CP & JM Jones –Timbercreek Holsteins, JH & BA Dealy, AJ & JM Wilson, AL & BR Younger and SC & VJ Winchester.

The North East Victorian function was held at the Beechworth, where a great night was had.

Ray Perkins and Shirleen Evans were announced as the Victorian Regional winners. Ray and Shirleen also had the distinction of being among Dairy Australia’s Top 100 suppliers in Australia, based on BMCC, . Quality certificates on the night were presented to Wild Dog Creek Pastoral Company, JP & ER Pethybridge and JJ & BL Evans.

FNQ director James Geraghty, Regional Manager Tony Burnett and Regional Quality award winner Sean Collins.

A Runner Up Jared King with local director Adrian Dauk.

ictorian Runners Up Bernice and Scott Lumsden with Regional Manager Dom Baxter.

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New AGM format a hit

The DFMC Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held in Kiama, NSW on November 19th. This year we kicked off the day with an open forum in the morning, followed by the formalities of the AGM, and then a lunch during the presentation of the NSW South Coast quality awards.

We were privileged to hear from two highly credentialed and topical speakers during our open forum, with the head of the NSW Farmers Dairy Committee, Colin Thompson, and the recently appointed NSW Dairy Advocate, Ian Zandstra, giving us plenty to think about. Given current discussion around the Australian Dairy Plan, both were able to provide wonderful and interesting insights of their respective roles.

Chairman Andrew Burnett then led a Q & A session for members on co-operative matters. Andrew opened the AGM, presenting his Chairman’s report, highlighting the responses to the drought including Lion’s True-Blue drought fund and the Dairy Pride payment.  He also reaffirmed the importance of the 3-year extension of the Milk Supply Agreement and the key points – dispute resolution, the revised aggregation fee of $300k and that the MSA is no longer exclusive.

This was followed by an operations report from Executive Officer Mark Kebbell, highlighting the drop in milk production in all regions. Finally, a finance report from Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee, John McKillop highlighted that the co-operative’s operating profit (after income tax and before dividend) was $676k for 2019.  The equity portfolio continued to grow – at a little over 10% again for the financial year to $13.4m

As advised in the days leading up to the AGM, the co-operative’s Annual Report can be found on the DFMC website at http://dfmc.org.au/operation/dfmc-annual-reports/.