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Peter Evans back to Western Dairy chair

Zach RelphCountryman
Western Dairy board members Scott Hamilton, Nick Brasher, Brian Piesse, Andrew Jenkins in the back row, with Robin Lammie, executive officer Esther Jones and chairman Peter Evans in the front row.
Camera IconWestern Dairy board members Scott Hamilton, Nick Brasher, Brian Piesse, Andrew Jenkins in the back row, with Robin Lammie, executive officer Esther Jones and chairman Peter Evans in the front row. Credit: Western Dairy

Long-time dairy farmer Peter Evans will resume the chair at the group governing WA dairy farmers’ levy spend, after more than a decade on the sidelines.

The Metricup-based dairy farmer was appointed Western Dairy chairman on a three-year term at last Thursday’s annual general meeting in Busselton, replacing outgoing chairwoman and Waroona producer Vicki Fitzpatrick.

It marked Mr Evans’ return to the Western Dairy chair, with the well-known South West farming identity previously holding the organisation’s chairman role from 2003 to 2007.

Mr Evans milks about 850 cows alongside son Grant, also a former Western Dairy chairman, on a dry-land dairy farm with no irrigation.

Citing rising hay costs across the South West on the back of the Eastern States drought, the dairy veteran said improving sustained fodder growth was becoming increasingly vital for WA’s $188 million dairy industry.

“It is more important that farmers use feed well and grow as much of their own pastures as possible,” Mr Evans said.

“We know that the most profitable farmers are the ones who have a large proportion of their feed as home grown.

“That is really important, especially now, given the high feed prices.”

Mr Evans’ appointment comes as Western Dairy braces for the departure of long-serving executive officer Esther Jones, who is set to vacate her post of 20 years in June.

Mrs Jones, who will work with the board to recruit her successor, said though the State’s milk production declined to 374 million litres for 2018-19, the sector remained in good stead.

“Our industry did take a 10 million litre hit in 2018-19 mostly due to the impacts of a tough season,” she said.

“While there has been — and I’m sure will continue to be — rationalisation of businesses across the spectrum of industry, dairy businesses are mostly growing both in size and complexity.

“WA’s 150 dairy farms are on average, looking after the largest herds in the country.

“This phenomenon together with our geographic isolation and our pasture-dominated farming systems provide the basis for Western Dairy’s growing list of projects and priorities.”

Busselton dairy farmer Robin Lammie was elevated to vice-chairman at last Thursday’s meeting, while Brian Piesse was reappointed as specialist director.

The duo joins Nick Brasher, Andrew Jenkins and Scott Hamilton as directors.

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