A DAIRY farmer who helped introduce robotic dairies into Australia is on a mission to encourage consumers to boycott cheap milk to save local farms from closing.
Queensland farmer, Greg Dennis – affectionately known as “Farmer Gregie” – has written and released a book called “Holy Cow” to try to help consumers understand how important it is for them to buy local milk instead of $1 a litre milk from supermarkets.
“Farmer Gregie”, who owns the 4 Real Milk dairy near Beaudesert, south-west of Brisbane, said a year after the highly publicised milk war consumers were back buying cheap milk.
“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.
“Farmer Gregie” launched his book in September, just weeks after two neighbouring dairy farms in the Scenic Rim closed their gates.
“If you are spending less than $2 per litre for milk you are helping to financially break a farmer somewhere in Australia,” he said.
“Farmer Gregie” became the face of the milk crisis last year when he drove a tractor more than 2000 kilometres around Queensland to raise awareness of what cheap milk was doing to the industry.
“In July last year I jumped in a tractor and drove 2000 kilometres to the Atherton Tableland just to keep the conversion going.”
The book, Holy Cow, aims to educate consumers about the importance of spending an extra dollar or two to support farmers.
Member for Beaudesert Jon Krause said the $1 milk war continues to decimate the dairy industry across Australia.
“$1 a litre milk is the curse of the Queensland dairy industry. It is the direct cause behind the exit from the industry since 2011 of numerous excellent dairy farmers from our region. The flow on impact to our local economy has seen jobs on and off farm disappear forever.”
“Local communities can back their own farmers by buying local milk if they can, or buying branded milk otherwise, not the $1 a litre milk that is decimating the industry.”
Farmer Gregie, who was named Australia’s Dairy Farmer of the Year in 2014, said:
“We need consumers to know the truth. 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, Farmer Gregie saw milk sales soar by 75 percent. The spike didn’t last, plummeting just a fortnight later.
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 5th generation dairy farmer, he wrote the book Holy Cow to give farmers a voice and to share 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.