Globalisation and milk production in Australia


Thousands of kilometers from France and its dairy farmers furious against the big company Lactalis, here we are in the Kangaroo valley. A haven of greenery, a country of cattle farmers and market gardeners with an annual rainfall of 1200 millimeters (like French Brittany) and fertile land, life seems dynamic here. Some young people come to launch their cafés or restaurants in the center of the village after successful experiences in the city. Kangaroo valley is a tourist area appreciated for its green nature but also for its white and black cows.

But here, as an effect of climate change or as Donald Trump would say « something happening », the local producers are going through an exceptional drought since two years, a record since the 50’s.

In this region which had more than fifty dairy farmers about twenty years ago, there are now only 5, which, against all odds, try to keep on farming, and to pass their land down from generation to generation. They continue to struggle to deliver milk.

One liter of milk costs to a producer 70 cents in drought times, while in normal times it costs around 40 cents. The problem is that like many agricultural products, this price is indexed in a global market that does not take into account local problems. This price varies but is currently running around 50 cents ...

This way of life is more and more complicated in the face of multinationals which own huge and monstrous farms and are able to cope with severe unforeseen events. They can cash in heavy investments, they can suffer heavy losses. But what about these families? Those families that are not able anymore to feed their cattle as they would like to. The price of hay is now around 500 dollars the ton instead of something around 150.

Well the local population has mobilized. They decided to create a mutual fund and raised more than $ 30,000 for farmers, a small consolation but still a nice gift. (source here) It gives courage and moral support to people who are emotionally touched and do not know what to do.

They have also decided to buy their milk at an increased price in the supermarkets who have "taken advantage" of the bad fate that persecutes these producers to carry out a "big heart" marketing operation, deciding to pay this extra money to the producers ( to which producers? This operation is controversial but quite successful). This share of 10 cents more per liter raises a large sum of money knowing the high consumption of milk among Australians, the double of what French people consume a year.

The Kangaroo valley community is even ready for the impossible, creating a cooperative platform to process and bottle milk. An investment up to a million dollars but that would keep its producers in place and create short circuits independent of the global market prices.


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