Frank up for dairy’s challenges

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Bob GarnantCountryman
Frank Angi attends to his famiily's Holstein dairy cows.
Camera IconFrank Angi attends to his famiily's Holstein dairy cows. Credit: Bob Garnant

At the age of 15, Frank Angi is yet to comprehend his family’s dairy books, only knowing the frustration of expensive equipment upgrades.

After completing a Certificate III in Agriculture, specialising in dairy production, Frank’s wish list is not typical of many in his age bracket.

“It would be great to have a new tractor that doesn’t break down,” he said.

After finishing school in Year 9, Frank — a third-generation farmer — is in his second year of working full-time at his parents’ Harvey-based dairy.

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His parents, Michael and Mary Angi, said he had loved dairy work since he was knee-high.

“I am well and truly on dairy time — up at four in the morning feeding the cows, before herding them to be milked,” Frank said.

“After a breakfast break, we return to the dairy before lunch and a nap, only to start the process again in the afternoon.

“This goes on seven days a week.”

Frank said he enjoyed dairy products but confessed he was torn between cheese and ice-cream.

He said he hated the fact that one day his favourites could all be made overseas.

The family’s weekly supply of 3000 litres of fresh milk from their 200-strong herd of Holsteins is under threat.

Michael said if the price currently received by dairy farmers failed to move the right way, there would be no future in consumers drinking Australian milk.

“The cost of production is above what we receive for our milk,” he said.

“Last year, our dairy was in the red, we ran at a loss, and it appears that will happen again this financial year.”

Michael said the main challenge of running his family’s dairy was to balance the books, which meant going without.

“I am not just a dairyman, I have to be a mechanic, welder and all sorts to repair outdated machinery. This is frustrating,” he said.

“We simply can’t keep going the way it is.”

Michael knows the industry is short on milk and that processors are also being squeezed by the supermarkets, yet there has not been any sign of price relief.

“We need a floor price or some form of regulation to compensate our duty of supplying a perishable product, or we face losing our livelihoods,” Michael said.

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