Mountain Milk Co-operative

Mountain Milk Co-operative is proud to be amongst the leading dairy farmers in Australia. They prioritise caring for their animals, soils and waterways because these combine to create their great tasting and healthy dairy products. Mountain Milk is a true cooperative that is run by families. They collaborate, innovate and educate so they can continually improve and strengthen their farms and community. They aim to create a path that the next generation will be proud to follow, ensuring a sustainable future for our farms and the region. Farming Together was integral in supporting the registration of the Mountain Milk Co-operative at the end of 2017.

The Catalyst for Change

  • In 2017, after the failure of Murray-Goulburn, dairy farmers in the Victoria’s North East were left with no option but to sell their milk to a large multinational company and be price takers. They knew there had to be another way.

The Opportunity

  • Five farming families started Mountain Milk Co-operative, a farmer-owned dairy co-operative.
  • The co-op’s purpose is to create value for its members and empower them to take greater control of their future.
  • Create a path that the next generation will be proud to follow, ensuring a sustainable future for the farms and the region.

The Challenge/s

  • Developing a common business and strategic plan that everyone agrees with can be a challenge.
  • The fear of breaking the corporate ties, and uncertainty if this will have consequences.
  • Building a solid governance framework and culture within the co-op. It is a start up business and takes time.

Success Story

Today Mountain Milk Co-operative:

  • Has grown from 5 to 8 member farms,
  • Has an $11.2 million annual turnover,
  • Produces 23 million litres of milk per year,
  • Has forward supply arrangements with Freedom Foods, Gundowring Fine Foods and Lactalis, and
  • Is looking to develop their own branding and sell bottled milk to their community.

Future Looking

  • Don’t be scared. There’s plenty of help in the co-op sector. Co-op Federation have been fantastic, not to mention other co-ops. You feel like you are part of a huge family where there’s an amazing amount of support and assistance available. Everyone is co-operative and collaborative!
  • You need a good business plan. Spend the time up front and invest in a good plan and foundation. It’s no different to a corporate structure – without a plan and good governance you won’t succeed! You need to understand where your ambitions lie and having plans to support that is really important. You will encounter uncertainty, risk and be challenged with decision making – but a good set of plans helps guide you.
  • There are opportunities out there. The uncertainty might feel too big, but what have you got to lose? Back yourself as there is an amazing array of opportunity and prosperity for you. The co-operative structure will become your competitive advantage!

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