Rivers of milk bring prosperity to Valley

Simon Bennett

Rivers of milk bring prosperity to Valley

JULY 2015 | Shelly Peterson

“THERE ARE huge opportunities in the future for the Tasmanian Dairy Industry,” states Simon Bennett, local farmer and Deputy Chair of Dairy Tasmania.

In 2012, Mr Bennett and four other diary farmers from across Australia were selected by Dairy Australia and the Gardener Foundation to form a working group to tour Europe, Asia and the United States. Their aim was to assess current trends within the international dairy market and essentially report on what our Dairy Industry needs to do to meet any future demands.

“There has been a lot of focus on the shorter term issues such as drought and floods, but the industry hasn’t looked at the medium to long term opportunities for a long time,” shares Mr Bennett.

Worldwide markets have increased imports into China.

“China sees our products as good quality, safe and one they can trust,” he explains.

Mr Bennett points out that “if, as an industry, we set ourselves a target, we could easily increase from 9 billion litres to 15 billion litres per year.”

The opportunities for Tasmania in particular are very promising.

He elaborates, “The Tasmanian dairy industry has been growing at 10% every year over the last few years whereas the national average is 2%. In fact, we have broken the record nationally in producing the most litres of milk.”

Moreover, he states that what has driven the growth are “a capacity to manufacture, good rainfall, good irrigation infrastructure and confidence there is a long term demand for (the) product.”

“The Meander Valley, in particular, has above the State average size herds (and) the irrigation infrastructure which has gone out across the region, (gives) farmers a 95% increase in water and (so drives) confidence to invest,” he additionally emphasises.

Simon believes the Meander Valley region has plenty of potential for increased dairy.

“There is plenty of land able to be converted to dairy if existing farmers want to do that or if anyone else wants to invest.”

Moreover, he adds, “We shouldn’t be afraid of foreign investment as it creates employment, brings money into the area and creates thriving communities.”

“(Asian investors) have the money but we’ve got the skills,” he explains.

Being a farmer all his life, Simon maintains, “Dairy farming is not just about getting up every morning and milking cows (and) then doing the same in the afternoon.

As a farmer we do a number of jobs throughout the year and they all change. That’s what I love about it.”

 Mike Moores