Lockyer dairy farmer unhappy with milk squeeze

AT THE SOURCE: Graham Duncan is happy with his robot milking machines but less so about the deal he is getting from processors.
AT THE SOURCE: Graham Duncan is happy with his robot milking machines but less so about the deal he is getting from processors. Derek Barry

ROBOT machines milk his cows but it's the big companies milking profits that has dairy farmer Graham Duncan worried.

Mr Duncan who farms at Glenore Grove knew his dairy machines needed upgrading a couple of years ago but instead of looking at a rotary or rapid-release herring bone operation he wanting something a little more cutting edge.

"We installed these robots from Lely from the Netherlands and after a bit of teething trouble it's now working really well," Mr Duncan said.

"We know more about each and every cow, we test how much milk they have each day, how much fat, how much protein, whether they've got mastitis, whether they're on heat, all these sort of things come up on our computer."

Mr Duncan said six out of every 10 of his cows got milked three times a day, taking pressure off udders, and helping with stress and mastitis.

"The happier a cow is, the more milk it produces," he said.

But while Mr Duncan's cows are happy, the farmer himself is very unhappy with the state of the market as the supermarkets continue to squeeze profits with their $1 litre milk.

"The litre of milk at a dollar is not what you'd call real milk any more," he said.

"You want real milk, you buy milk with the cream on top - it is unprocessed, it is just pasteurised and put in a bottle like it was many years ago and should not be touched in any other way."

Mr Duncan said the deregulated market wasn't working for the south-east Queensland dairy industry and it was the processing companies who were at fault.

"They're short of milk in Queensland. Parmalat are importing milk from NSW and Victoria and we are actually subsidising that milk," he said.

"They are paying us less than what is it costing them to bring it up here."

Mr Duncan said it was hurting farmers with 70% unable to afford to pay their bills monthly.

"It's not sustainable, we're losing money - supply and demand is not working in south-east Queensland," he said.

"Parmalat have taken our margin to protect their margin and I really don't know what's going to happen if they don't change that."

Topics:  agriculture dairy farmers

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