Longest milk run in the world

Brad ThompsonCountryman
Harvey Fresh product on production lines.
Camera IconHarvey Fresh product on production lines. Credit: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian.

A WA dairy processor has started what must qualify as the longest milk run in the world as the local industry pursues a financial aid package aimed at keeping farmers on the land.

Parmalat-owned Harvey Fresh is trucking milk more than 4000km from its processing plant in the South West to Darwin as it tries to deal with oversupply issues.

The dairy crisis is threatening the livelihoods of at least nine farmers with unwanted milk.JU

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has been asked to intervene and is considering a financial aid package for WA.

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The aid could be used to subsidise the freight costs involved in sending milk to Darwin, prop up dairy exports, encourage Brownes to reopen its cheesemaking plant in Brunswick, or go direct to farmers.

Brownes has told four farmers coming out of contract at the end of next month it no longer wants their milk.

WA’s two other major processors, Harvey Fresh and Lion, do not want it either. Harvey Fresh has notified five farmers that their supply contracts will not be renewed when they expire in January.

Parmalat usually relies on its national network to supply the Northern Territory from other States. Harvey Fresh general manager Paul Lorimer declined to comment, but it is understood Parmalat is taking the long road to Darwin at considerable cost.

Mr Lorimer told a recent conference that Harvey Fresh’s long-life milk distributor in China had cut its annual order from 12 million litres to two million.

Mr Joyce met WAFarmers chief executive Stephen Brown and dairy section president Michael Partridge after a dairy symposium in Melbourne on Thursday.

A spokeswoman for Mr Joyce said he met them WAFarmers pair at the invitation of Liberal MP Nola Marino, whose husband Charlie is a farmer supplying Brownes.

“A range of possible options were discussed by which the industry and State and Commonwealth governments could, collectively or individually, assist,” in achieving a positive outcome,” she said.

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