Fifth generation Mount Torrens farmer Rick Gladigau is positive about the future of the South Australian dairy industry. He’s pleased with growth in the local processing industry, and now wants to see more farmers directly supplying them.
Rick has sold milk from his 100 cow dairy to Udder Delights since September 2016. He was originally a Dairy Vale supplier, then a Dairy Farmers supplier, but made the decision to find a local processor in 2016.
“I started speaking to a few local processors, then sent an email to Udder Delights and they were interested,” Rick said.
“I met with Saul and Sheree Sullivan. At that time, they were getting their milk from Murray Goulburn.We talked about the type and quantity of milk they were looking for and, eventually, they agreed to take me on.”
It wasn’t all plain sailing – as Rick was Udder Delight’s first direct farmer supplier, systems needed to be set up to govern the rules around milk quality, delivery and payment. “For example, I had to set up my own cartage and daily testing as part of the deal, so I sorted that out with Blu Logistics,” Rick said.
“You have to be flexible, but in the long run, it’s worth it. It leads to better prices, and a better industry here in South Australia. I’d like to see more farmers supplying small processers in this state. There are 48 processors in SA now, and it’s still growing, so there are opportunities out there.
“And South Australia has a reputation for producing the best quality milk in Australia, so we should focus on building our local supply chain.”
At this own dairy, which he runs with his wife Tania, Rick is fastidious about food safety. He uses a diary system, where every farm activity is recorded. Rick and any workers check the diary on arrival to see the status of activities such as spraying, cleaning, cow/calf treatments and maintenance.
The diary also includes recordings of hot water service temperatures, vat cooling temperatures and other critical information, such as breakdowns and repairs.
“You have to find a system that works for you, and this is best method I have found. I work mostly by myself, but occasionally I employ people to help out, so it’s important for us to be on the same page. The diary is the first place we all look before milking. It’s simple, but effective,” Rick said.
He says the diary system is vital when it comes to food safety audits. “Before an audit, I spend extra time going through the diary and ensuring everything has been done correctly, and that feedback from our previous audit has been implemented,” he said.
“But if you’re running a good ship, you know where you’re at with food safety and quality, so audits are just a normal part of business.”
Rick has served on numerous diary industry boards over his farming career. He is currently Treasurer of the South Australian Dairyfarmers’ Association and has been a SADA board member since 2007. He is also a member of the markets, trade and value chain policy advisory group at Australian Diary Farmers.