Good milk price drives confidence for Kaarimba dairy farmers

By Sophie Baldwin

Kaarimba dairy farmers Monique and Mark Bryant are looking forward to a good season after their processor, Lactalis, announced an opening milk price of $7.01/kg MS.

The opening price, combined with the great start to autumn, has the business in a sound position looking towards 2020-21 — despite the threat of COVID-19.

“When COVID-19 started we spoke to our field officer and they gave us an indication they were confident of holding the price around $7 and even though things have been so uncertain, for Lactalis to still come out and honour that was just fantastic,” Mrs Bryant said.

“As suppliers it certainly gives us confidence in them to do the best by us."

The couple made the decision to supply Lactalis seven years ago.

“We originally supplied another local processor and we did have an opportunity to move to Lactalis earlier than we did,” Mrs Bryant said.

“After some reflection we decided if the opportunity ever arose again, we would jump at it and we did."

Mrs Bryant said the aim of their business was to develop a multiple generation sustainable model for the future, and a price of $7.01 allowed them to move toward that aim.

“Having a strong milk price allows us to confidently make both short- and long-term decisions to keep moving the business forward,” she said.

“When extra money is available farmers are more likely to invest in upgrading equipment, technology or infrastructure.

“We can grow or pay off debt and it gives us confidence in our decision making.”

Mrs Bryant said a strong milk price benefited the whole community.

“From my observations farmers are big supporters of local communities and it makes sense when we have additional money to spend, we spend it in our local communities,” she said.

“I once heard a statistic stating the majority of farm income is spent within 100 km of the farm gate, which makes a lot of sense."

The Bryants purchased their family farm 12 years ago off Mark’s parents, in what Mrs Bryant describes as a successful succession plan story.

“Our succession was completed when we were relatively young, which has given us plenty of time to work toward our goals,” she said.

They made the decision to cap herd numbers at 300, a number they feel they can confidently manage with the help of their full-time labour unit.

“We feel we can remain hands on, grow our own fodder, rear young stock and still manage to do a good job of it at 300,” Mrs Bryant said.

“We built a 16-a-side, double-up, rapid-exit dairy to reflect this and it works well.

“Mark and I milk together in the morning and the labour unit does it by himself in the afternoon.”

The Bryants enjoy running their own business and they love the flexibility dairying gives, especially when it comes to their family — 15-year-old Ella and 12-year-old Aiden.