Eungella dairy farmers' last ditch effort to survive
IN ONE final bid to revive the Mackay and Central Queensland milk industry, Eungella's Woodland family are putting local milk back on local shelves.
Peter Woodland and his family have been producing and supplying milk to the Mackay and Whitsunday regions for more than 62 years and they're not about to stop.
Mr Woodland has seen almost three-quarters of local producers in the industry drop out in recent years because they couldn't make a living and he puts the blame on large corporations selling milk for rock bottom prices.
His goal, with his brother David, is to bring the "decimated" local industry back to life, and position local farmers back in the market, giving them a bigger say in the supply chain.
The brothers have grown up dairy farming so their passion and desire for the industry to thrive comes from the heart.
"We aren't trying to make millionaires out of anyone, we just want farmers to be able to make a fair dollar and to make a proper return on what they do," Mr Woodland said.
"We've had such a flogging over the last two years, so this is our last ditch effort to try and save the industry.
"If the brand is successful it will help the premium to go back to the farm gate rather than into corporate hands."
The Woodlands, with the help of other members of the Port Curtis Dairy committee, have formed a separate company, CQ United Dairy, which will distribute local milk under new local brand names to the regions throughout Central Queensland.
For Mackay and the Whitsundays that will be 'Whitsunday Dairy Fresh' - milk supplied by the Woodland Family and Eungelladale Milk.
After two years of hard work, Mr Woodland said he was thrilled to finally see the initiative come to fruition, launching in stores throughout Mackay on Monday.
Whitsunday Dairy Fresh will be supplied via the majority of smaller food shops, convenience stores and IGAs throughout the region, but not the two main chains, Woolworths and Coles.
Long hours and sleepless nights had all been worth it, Mr Woodland said, now that their launch date has finally arrived.
The next step is hoping local buyers will show some support in return.
"We are realistic about our goal with it. Obviously we want to get into the market and sell as much milk as we can," he said.
"But if we could eventually ensure every farmer that's left in Central Queensland is supplying their own brand then that would be the ultimate victory.
"It will take time but that's our end goal with all this.
"With big supermarket chains holding a big chunk of the market, we have a tough road, but this is us fighting back. We are going to supply milk for the most reasonable price we can offer to the consumer, and we hope they will get behind us."
For the first time in years, Mr Woodland said, he holds a positive outlook for the future of the company and the industry as a whole, feeling proud of what he, his family and CQ United Dairy have managed to achieve.
"We have the vehicle now to put milk into the market place, and now it's just about making it successful, but I think we can do it," he said.
"I am confident because we are putting a good product on the table, it's good quality and we are offering a good price, and we're doing it in a way so that farmers can pay their way."