The brunt of the dairy industry crisis has hit the Britnell Family, who have made the tough decision to switch dairy processors for the survival of their farm business.
South West Coast MP Roma Britnell, husband Glenn and son Tom revealed to The Standard they were making the “heartbreaking decision” to leave Murray Goulburn after 12 years, due to three successive poor years.
From September 1, the Britnell’s will supply Warrnambool Cheese and Butter.
Mr and Mrs Britnell said the move was based solely on the survival of their business – which includes a herd of about 1000 cows across three farms, producing more than six million litres of milk each year.
Mrs Britnell, who has stepped away from the day-to-day management of the farm since being elected to state parliament, said the family wanted to be honest and open about the decision they had made.
“For a long time, I've talked about the importance of farmers working together and having some influence over the supply chain,” Mrs Britnell said.
“I understand people may see this move as being completely at odds with that, that's why I wanted to be open and upfront.
“But that belief hasn't changed – it's a view I still firmly hold – however, after the past couple of years, we are in a situation we never wanted to be in.”
Mr Britnell said the switch to Warrnambool Cheese and Butter was a decision the family had to make.
“Our eldest son Tom has joined the business as our manager, taking on Roma's role and our second son Austin is also involved,” he said.
“We had to make this very tough call for them, our two other children and our grandson Archie.
"This really was a business decision, if we had stayed with MG, we would have faced a third straight year of losses – that’s unviable for any business.
"Roma and I built this business from the ground up. There is no inheritance, we are first-generation farmers.
"We've worked hard and as any business owner will tell you, margins are slim and losses cut deep"
Mrs Britnell said they had explored a number of processors, but it was “imperative” the family continued to support a south-west based company.
“Granted, Warrnambool Cheese and Butter is owned by a Canadian company, but it employs local people and the money they earn is spent in locally,” she said.
“That was very, very important for me.”
Mrs Britnell said it had been a tough few years for the dairy industry, but she remained confident there was a strong future as global demand increased.
Want to read more stories like this?
Sign up to receive our e-newsletter delivered fresh to your email in-box twice a week.