Local News

L-R Clarence Valley Dairy Operations Manager – Barry Paff, Clarence Valley Dairy Operations Director – Kam Hasan and Sales and Logistics – Scott Halovic. Image: Lynne Mowbray

Local milk back on the shelves

Lynne Mowbray

Clarence Valley milk is once again back on our shelves.

The Southgate dairy formerly known as Big River Milk, closed its farm gate for the last time in December 2019, after succumbing to the unprecedented drought and mounting production costs.

Operations Manager Barry Paff said that during early December, the company sold off 150 of its cows before eventually closing down.

“We kept 100 cows, just to keep things kicking along,” Mr Paff said.

“We put all the staff off and basically just sold milk to Richmond Dairies in Casino and that was just to keep things going until such times as a buyer came along.
“The factory and farm were just running in caretaker mode.

“In March the place was on the market and then new owner Kam Hasan came along,” he said.

Mr Paff said that things were slow at the start due to the early stages of COVID, but they began doing some home deliveries in April, just to get the plant up and running again.

“On September 1 this year, Kam took over the business under the business name Balance Agro Complex Pty Ltd trading as Clarence Valley Dairy, which is 100 percent Australian owned,” he said.

“During the last few weeks, we’ve opened up the main part of the plant and got it up and running again.

“We’re supplying several coffee shops already and our 2-litre milk is back in SPAR Maclean and IGA in Maclean, as well as a few other stores, so the word is getting out and people want our milk.

“By Christmas we’re hoping to be producing 10,000 litres of milk a week -that’s our target.

“We want to start and build our local business in Yamba, Maclean and Grafton and a little bit on the back road to Coffs Harbour; so that’s our main focus until after Christmas.

“We’re also starting to do some negotiations with businesses in Sydney, the Gold Coast and Brisbane, so we’re also looking at the bigger picture,” he said.

Mr Paff said that looking into the future, the farm will eventually milk around 800 cows.

“We’re currently milking 200 cows and producing over 4000 litres a day for the farm and 1600 litres a week through the factory.

“So apart from the 1600 litres, the rest goes to the Richmond Dairies.

“It would be nice to be able to use every litre of milk off the farm, but if we get to 800 cows, we’re looking at 24,000 litres a day in production and I can’t see us getting to 24,000 litres a day through the plant.

“We have a free stall barn here at the moment, so we let the cows in and feed them of a night-time and then they get pasture of a day.

“There’s currently nine employees at the moment including one trainee and our end goal will be to have somewhere between 15 – 20 local employees.

“We had to step away from the ‘Big River’ name and make a fresh start with our new name Clarence Valley Dairy; everyone knows where the Clarence Valley is.

“We are a local business that is endeavouring to create maximum employment in the area, and we’ve got a very good, quality product – and our name is our product,” he said.

For more information, contact Clarence Valley Dairy through their Facebook.

Clarence Valley Dairy milk is now appearing on our supermarket shelves. Image: contributed