My plea for farmers of Australia

My son feeding a calf from a Norco Co-op
The chickens were happy
My son feeding sheep

Watching the cow that was about to be milked

I try to stay away from politics. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very opinionated when it comes to politics but when it comes to writing blogs – I stay away. I personally think that there is too much out there and people are getting bombarded with so much hate and vitriol that there is a huge need for people to be exposed to something other than the stress of the news. So I try to stay away… but today I can’t and I hope not only will you forgive me but share this so that the “city folk” can understand why this is so desperately needed. ALSO – I want to say NO ONE is paying me for this – this was based completely on attending an school excursion today with my son (yes – a simple school excursion has turned me into a passionate advocate).

Also, I have had so many debates over the year over Australian Dairy. I know – I’m American as well. People try to tell me all the horrible things that are done to the dairy cows from the documentaries they have seen and I tell then “I am pretty sure Australia is different,” but I had no proof to back this up – until now.

Last year my daughter visited one of the many (approximately 250?) Norco Co-op dairies in Australia. I was unable to go on the excursion but she came home completely converted that we had to buy Norco. I said to her that it was a higher price and I tried to give her all the reasons why I never bought Norco, but her little mind and voice was trying to explain to me what she heard that day. I nodded and didn’t really understand what she had interpreted and never really thought about it.

Fast forward to TODAY. Today I got to visit a different Norco Dairy Co-op in the Scenic Rim with my son’s class. I understand why my daughter was converted and now, I have completely converted too.
First – this isn’t anything like you see on TV. These are passionate Dairy farmers who know the names of every one of their cows, they are concerned for their cows, they talk and chat with their cows. This isn’t a mass production for a reason – AND FOR GOOD REASON. These are farmers (and there are many) who care about their animals – if they tried to expand and become massive they know the quality of the milk – and their cows would suffer. They choose to stay small, they choose to care and they choose to deliver the best milk on the market.

I have seen horrible misinformation out there about milking cows. How calves are taken away from their mother – etc etc… this is not the case with the smaller dairies. The cows are only milked after the calves take exactly what they need. It benefits a lot of these family owned farms to have healthy calves to raise to also contribute later on – so why would they deny a calf food to make money? In fact a lot of these small dairies know the family line of many of these cows that they are milking today -they know their mothers and grandmothers – why? because there are actually people out there that care about animals that also produce food. Amazing right? I know quite a few farmers (although none of them in the dairy business until today) who have talked about the only reason doing it is the love of the land and/or the love of the animals. These animals are cared for. Proof? One of the ways to check quality is testing the white blood cell count – the lower the count the healthier the cow… guess which “brand” has the lowest white blood cell count? Yes… and I haven’t barely even started… I was shocked to find out that NORCO is 100% Australian owned. My mind screamed “yes but so is… ” and I had a bunch of names in my head – I was assured… some of those brands are Partially Australian – but there is some foreign ownership (seriously it makes me cry when I type that as I have been super loyal to other brands).

I had heard something about a 10 cents hike – the farmer I spoke today told me that would be a minimum¬† – it would help but it needs to be higher for them to benefit (he was hoping for 20 cents) – but branded milk can only be hiked if the homebrand milk price is hiked. I don’t know why this is – I didn’t ask – I assume it’s basic economics, or contract related. Right now they are only receiving profit from farmstays and tours. NOT the dairy. That’s not good enough.

I don’t know about you but I buy A LOT of milk – I thought out this price hike and realized that at most this would be $0.40 difference for me a week – I’ll take it – if I can get all Australian owned good quality milk – where I know the cows are treated very well it’s worth it.
You see – I joked with the leadership spill recently in Australia – announcing my run (everyone else was doing it) on my personal Facebook account. I was horrified that we had given over $400 billion dollars to a Great Barrier reef conservation company(when they didn’t ask for it) with six employers… and yet – our Australian farmers are having to sell up because they simply can’t afford to run their farms. I joked I could win votes by just saying I would give most of that money to farmers “because food” (I got many likes from this statement – I think the people want to support Australian farms – and possibly they just like food). I’m sure the $400 billion to the GBR will pay off when we are all starving but the Great Barrier Reef will be alive and well. I am for all animals and all conservation so don’t get me wrong – this isn’t anything against the reef (fyi there is a small amount of information out there but they can help the reef and it doesn’t cost $400 billion).
We need food. We also need Australian food (for quality and price control) and we DESPERATELY NEED AUSTRALIAN FARMERS. If I was in politics – this would be the first thing on my agenda – and I don’t understand anyone who doesn’t see it this way. Second – as an AUSTRALIAN CITIZEN – we need to have this as our top priority or we could easily be a nation depending on the generosity of another country to supply us basics.

So this is just my plea for Australians – PLEASE support a minimum 10 cent price hike in dairy.¬† Second – please – lets have no tolerance for ANY politician who isn’t willing to make this their top priority in the next election. I don’t care which side you sit on. Food is kind of necessary for survival. ALSO – since NORCO is 100% Australian – please – if you do drink milk – please pay a little extra for those farmers who actually care about their animals and quality more than profit. They deserve it. We need them.

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