Dairy farmer's fight-back strategy pays off
FORMER Gympie dairy farmers, the Anderson family were not alone in the crisis that followed national milk market de-regulation.
But their fight-back strategy was close to unique.
Faced with unbeatable price competition from Victoria, Greg and Michelle Anderson took the challenge to their competitors' turf, literally.
They moved to Victoria.
As a relative put it, "If you're only getting Victorian prices, you may as well go to Victoria and have lower Victorian costs as well."
The move has seen a big turnaround in the family fortunes and has shown the nation what Queenslanders can do on a level playing field.
The family left Queensland about four years ago and moved to Cobram, in northern Victoria two years ago.
Herd genetics has always been an important foundation for the business and they have previously been noticed at the Gympie Show and at Toowoomba, the Brisbane Exhibition and Sydney's Royal Easter Show.
Now, Greg and Michelle's daughters Katie and Renee have cleaned up the competition at the recent Royal Melbourne Show, exhibiting senior champion heifer and reserve champion between them.
Then, to top that off, Katie's heifer, Bluechip Toffees Apple-RC claimed the first supreme champion heifer award in the recently re-organised Melbourne Show dairy competition.
Lower costs and a more favourable climate for cows are among their new advantages.
"You get less milk when it's really hot," Katie said.
"And we've only got to get the milk five minutes down the road to market, so that's got to help."
After moving from Gympie, the Andersons gave it another shot at Gin Gin, but sold up there four years ago, warning that Queensland would soon cease to be a supplier of fresh milk if farmer prices did not improve.
Now their daughters, Katie and Renee, are whipping up a lot of enthusiasm as they compete with the cream of the industry down south.
Katie, 17, yesterday passed on the good news of her Melbourne Show successes and that of Renee, 15.
"It feels pretty good," Katie said yesterday.
So it should, we might say.
Katie's supreme champion is nothing if not well bred.
And the victory did not come cheap.
Her grand dam is the US$1 million cow, KHW Regiment Appolke EX 96 and her dam sold for $80,000 in Australia.
The wins capped off a successful few weeks for Katie and Renee, as Victoria's Weekly Times newspaper reported.
Katie won champion handler at the Adelaide Royal Show and Renee was reserve champion.
At Melbourne, the girls brought seven exhibits to the show and every one stood in the top five.
Three class winners, two seconds, one third and one fifth were the placings.
The Andersons also bred reserve champion heifer Sun Vale Attitude Sara, who stood third at International Dairy Week and was second at last year's Royal Melbourne Dairy Show.