"Farmer-owned Gippsland milk company seeks to set example for fairer pricing" - ABC News,

by Steve Ronalds

By Bridget Fitzgerald

The co-founders of a Gippsland farmer-owned milk brand say they hope they can raise awareness about fairer pricing for dairy farmers.

Sallie Jones and Steve Ronalds launched the farmer-owned milk brand, Gippsland Jersey, at the Warragul Farmers' Market on Saturday.

Ms Jones and Mr Ronalds, a fourth-generation Jindivik dairy farmer, have been friends for years, and the two decided to join forces to create the brand using milk from Mr Ronalds' dairy herd.

Mr Ronalds is the sole supplier to the milk brand for now, but he said once the product gained traction, the plan was to start sourcing milk from neighbouring farmers.

He said he began thinking of starting his own brand following a serious motorcycle accident in November.

"I was laid up in bed for a couple of months and couldn't work on the farm," he said.

"But that doesn't mean your brain stops."

During an Easter holiday in Eden, New South Wales, Mr Ronalds and his wife Bec came across a local, farmer-owned Jersey milk brand, Tilba.

"We thought, hang on, we've got Jerseys and we've being doing that since my great grandfather started [farming there] in 1930," he said.

"We've got a beautiful herd, beautiful farm, so why on earth aren't we looking at value adding?"

The idea was given momentum after the dairy price crash, which began when Australia's largest dairy processor Murray Goulburn slashed its farm gate milk price in April.

At a time when most dairy farmers in Australia were earning below the cost of production for their milk, Mr Ronalds said it was like he had "a weight taken off" his shoulders.

"It was a beautiful thing."

Milk brand aims to send message

Ms Jones wants the milk brand to be a leader in the industry.

She grew up on a dairy farm and said she took inspiration from her father, who died five months ago and was always "value adding to every drop of milk" on the farm.

Ms Jones said the milk brand was a passion project and she was working in honour of her father.

"I know my dad would have wanted to do something in this current dairy crisis," she said.

"When the dairy farmers are being paid rubbish, I know he wouldn't have stood there and done nothing."

Ms Jones said the farmer-owned brand was able to demonstrate that farmers should be able to be paid a better price at the farm gate.

"Gippsland Jersey can't solve the dairy crisis, but we can do a little bit to help," she said.

    1 out of ...