Why I welcomed Four Corners to our dairy

I’m looking forward to watching Four Corners tonight with all the enthusiasm of a patient awaiting the lancing of a boil. Will it be fun? No. Will it be good for me? I guess so.

It’s almost four months since Murray Goulburn called a trading halt, followed by the infamous “clawbacks” of both MG and Fonterra that rocked the dairy community.

In a state of confusion and panic, farmers called out for help. Ordinary Australians did what they could, ditching cheap unbranded milk in a show of solidarity with farmers that continues to hearten.

Four months on, panic has given way to a sense of aimlessness and loss. Helou and Tracy’s vision had offered a shining path towards security and prosperity but now Gary the Great has vanished and nobody has filled the role of white knight. Leadership is lacking at the time we need it most.

We farmers have a fleeting once-in-a-lifetime chance to fix things. Politicians want to know how they can help but we don’t seem to be able to articulate a coherent answer other than to cry for something, anything, to dull the pain.

Meanwhile, there’s a puerile optimism amongst some elites, reckoning that every casualty improves the prospects of the survivors. It’s a sentiment that disgusts me and simply doesn’t stack up.

Floods of milk generated by the powerhouses of Europe, NZ and the USA sink or float the export market – not the farm next door. We’ve already lost thousands of Aussie dairy farmers since deregulation. More of the same won’t solve our problems.

The first step towards a cure is to work out exactly what ails us and, at the moment, all we’re doing is bandaiding a festering sore. If there’s anybody who can sniff out and lance a boil, it’s Four Corners.

That’s why we welcomed Deb Whitmont and her team to our farm. Sure, I’ll be cringing on the couch but Four Corners’ Milked Dry might just reveal the bitter pill we need to swallow.






18 thoughts on “Why I welcomed Four Corners to our dairy

  1. Well done Marian. You are always arrest advocate for the industry and also possess a fine sense of what is right and wrong conduct, behaviour and morals of the corporate world


  2. The whole situation at the moment makes me wonder why we are bothering to try to get into the dairy industry at all! I am hoping our skills and experience, combined with our of the square thinking will one day get us somewhere, before we are too old to enjoy it! I still see positives within the industry that make us want to be a part of it all.
    I actually think it’s time for vertically integrated, transparent enterprises – going back to farmers working together and pooling resources seems to me the only way the next generation will have something to farm…along the lines of the way a co-op is supposed to work!
    I also fully support the concept of Australian worker’s super funds investing in Australian business – farming included here.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I just watched the video clip, read the blog article and read the comments and four things come through:
    1. Horizontal and vertical integration
    2. Australia will always need a co-op
    3. Longer horizon funding needed – superannuation style
    4. Some good solid praying for dairy farmers right now

    I will leave out my own distorted views on what actually needs to happen across the industry at all levels. That is for another day.


      • *takes a wee note to have a chat to a young lady about letting this request sneak through the cracks* 🙂


        Pick an area of debate…
        1. The missing of the mark of industry deregulation back in 1998-2000
        2. The current TPP and its impact on dairy in AU / NZ as well as the pending RCEP and why it could be a golden opportunity for AU dairy.
        3. Existing FTA agreements in general and their impact on dairy in AU.
        4. The $1 per litre milk (and its equivalent cheese value) at the retail level and its consequences.
        5. The pricing relationship and dependency between Murray Goulburn and Fonterra and how it can be fixed and by whom.
        6. Murray Goulburn Co-op moving from a pure farmer owned co-op to a hybrid and (a) how it was done, and (b) the consequences and which parts are never shared with the public and what options are available to redress it.
        7. Why the Australia dairy industry can’t compete on the international stage.
        8. How to help dairy farmers get a better deal.
        9. What alternatives are there to the current farmer – processor model.
        10. What can be done to help reduce farmers dependency on physical milk pricing and who could do it.
        11. What should be expected out of the current investigation by the ACCC, independent inquiry and potential legal action into Murray Goulburns conduct of late.
        12. Should a balanced support be given to the dairy industry across vastly differing environments and if so, how.
        13. How to define and execute break-through strategies with funding to back it.
        14. How to change and become an attractive investment proposition rather than a lending risk.
        15. Any other topic you like as I can guarantee I have missed something relevant in the above list…you choose.


          • Steve,

            Happy to open a dialogue on the $1 per litre milk (and its equivalent cheese value) at the retail level and its consequences but I have to defer to the owner of the blog first as to how she wants to handle it. Maybe you would like to talk to her first.

            Just so I know my potential audience are you on the farm side / processor side / retail side / industry association side / other side or outside of this debate as you stated “…are our customer we need to work together.” Or are you like me, merely an outside observer?



  4. Was sitting watching 4 corners when you came on. Almost jumped off the lounge with excitment.
    ‘I know her, I read her blog all the time’ I yelled.


  5. Well done.
    Here’s a song my choir La La Ville in Melbourne sings.

    Butter is better
    Butter from a cow
    Dairy fat is where its at
    Butter’s here and now…..

    To a great gospel beat. Cheers. Caz.


  6. You did well Marian, no cringing required! ( I can’t believe how much your little ones are growing!) If you see any of the other families featured on the story give em a pat on the back for me. Job well-done everyone.
    Even our resident office ecologist/plant nerd was getting psyched up to watch the story, so the message is starting to seep out into the concrete jungle.


  7. You and all the farming families on last night’s program did the industry proud. I hope more people have a greater understanding of just how bad this is. It is so hard to fathom what has been done to you guys. As I said to my hubby last night, imagine an employer saying I’ve overpaid you and you now need to pay me back. It would never happen.


  8. I was both outraged and heartbroken by the plight of the dairy farmers. Watching those beautiful dairy cows going off in the trucks had me in tears, and that’s obviously nothing compared to your devastation. I really hope they stop all the endless talking and take the appropriate action to help you and save this valuable industry. Murray Goulburn has behaved unconscionably and put dividends and profit before the dairy farmers, it’s obscene, how can we help?


  9. My dairy farmer husband and I watched the Four Corners show this evening (we were in the midst of book work last night). You came across extremely well as did all the farmers. You are right about the aimlessness. Our first calf arrived tonight (two weeks early than the official start of our calving season). We are wondering if it will be our last one.


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