Why we're going out on our own
We’ve been getting a fair bit of media exposure lately, and a huge amount of support and words of encouragement. I was interviewed by Steve Austin recently, and one of his questions got me thinking. He asked me why, with all the challenges presented by the milk wars, I didn’t just walk away and move to the city. I have wondered many times if I was mad to try to go out on my own....my own family has certainly questioned the decision many times...so I thought I’d try to explain my passion and drive to keep our farm going, secure my family’s future, and importantly, provide the best quality ‘4Real’ milk to YOUR family. Milk that’s not trucked hundreds, if not thousands of kilometres up the East Coast of Australia. Our milk will be ‘farm gate fresh’, and only sold in our region. We believe in milk that’s as close as possible to how it’s produced on farm...not with added permeate and major processing. We just believe in providing the best for your family, and ours.
Here are my reasons for going out on my own.
As we are brought into the world, we all start equal...at zero. With no life experience, no pre-conceived ideas, no judgement to pass, or standards to follow. So the process begins, as we are molded by those closest to us, and the environment surrounding us. Our personality developes, our confidence grows, our morals and ethics are instilled, remembered and later acted upon - as if almost by reflex.
With such diversity in our own great country, Australia.... of cultures - nationalities - religions - political beliefs, and the wide and varied combination of blends within and across these differences - there's little wonder we as a society don't always agree on everything. This is very healthy by the way, as it creates the intricate fabric with which our communities are woven. It is as beautiful as it is fascinating!
What’s really important?
It is in fact my fascination with people, and my desire to 'save the world', that I find myself drawn to the current phase of my life. With the fast pace of our lives today - so much to do...so little time, that many are neglecting some of life's most critical aspects. As a collective, we becoming a more and more disposable society. Our desire for financial success, to buy the 'toys' we don't need. Our 'entitlement' mentality is creating complacency, our apathy continues to cause instability. Our lack of time and effort to properly nourish our bodies and stimulate our minds. Our reliance for science and medicine to prolong our lives, artificially.
This lack of balance is now negatively impacting on many aspects of life - but most particularly health. The 'obesity epidemic' spirals out of control, Type 2 Diabetes is now afflicting people in their 20's and 30's, Cardiovascular Disease is growing exponentially and food allergies are on the rise. The severity and number of attacks and subsequent injuries stemming from drug and alcohol use, or those suffering from mental health is an endless stream.
My own recovery from clinical depression
During my own recovery, from a diagnosis of Clinical Depression only 3 years ago, I felt compelled to undertake a 'post mortem' on my own life, to that point in time - January 2010. My life as I knew it was over...though fortunately not in the literal sense, as I had enlisted the necessary help prior to becoming suicidal. Beyond the 'fog haze', fatigue and nausea that filled my days, I became committed...even obsessed to do whatever it took - to once again feel well.
In years to come, I will possibly look back at those first 6 months of 2010, as the most influencial of my life. I already acknowledge quite openly today, that Depression was the best thing that has ever happened to me. Sadly - I'm well aware that it does not end so well for many sufferers and their families. But personally, it was that period of analysis, the endless questioning, the search and ultimate discovery of purpose, that found me 'reborn'...as Farmer Gregie!!
Keeping the faith when others don’t
I 'see' things. Always have. My ideas are often, well, out there! During my quest to find that absolute purpose, and comprehend the role I must play, I began to see with a clarity I'd not previously experienced. The ideas were not new, but the conviction of belief and the confidence to implement these ideas was quite foreign to me. It has however resulted in some challenging times for other members involved in our family business. Despite my ability to justify all recent projects on farm - they have effectively been 'Executive Decisions', by yours truly. I have carried the burden of sceptisism and uncertainty, keeping the faith that our business will eventually be rewarded.
Australia...the food bowl which imports more than it exports?
We are genuinely reaching a critical time in history - that only the future will judge. Here in Australia, we are on the verge of becoming a 'net importer' of food. How is this even possible? With such a small population base in relationship to our fertile agricultural land. The triggers that have always assisted stability in the market-place are not longer working. 'Supply and Demand' has in the past been the driving force in maintaining the necessary equalibrium...whether that be here in Australia - or Internationally, with our domestic market - or exports.
It would appear to me, as a naieve country boy, that our supply chain has become as dysfunctional as the legislation that protects it. What we do know for a fact, is that in my little corner of the world - South East Queensland, is that there is currently a supply shortage of MILK (as of today...not next year), for which your local Dairy Farmers are being rewarded at...below the cost of production.
Shipping milk over 100s of kilometres....
I much prefer to stick to what I am aware of - so I won't digress into the many other food industries being cripled. But surely there is no problem for the consumer - you are still getting fresh milk every day? The truth is, your fresh milk is being trucked over longer and longer distances up and down the east coast of Australia, to fill the shortfall SEQ is currently experiencing. Particularly disturbing is the reality of this situation - there's every chance that a dairy farmer within an hours drive of your house...is bleeding money every single morning he or she gets out of bed. The situation is not likely to abate (having lost over 10% of Qld's dairy farmers since Australia Day, 2011) as forecasts indicate we may lose almost as many again, in the next 12 months.
Back to basics....local, fresh, minimally processed milk
You must also understand, that milk is a perishable item. It is a living organism, with a limited shelf life. We can only extend that shelf life, by rendering milk itelf completely devoid of life - ah yes...UHT milk! But even if we avoid going to the extreme of Ultra Heat Treating our milk, we are losing precious days in transit...in and out of cold storage, before your 'fresh' milk arrives. There is a fast growing movement of people who believe strongly in getting back to local, fresh, minimally processed foods.
It is absolutely critical - that the general public are aware of the wider ramifications of their buying habits today. To maintain a high level of stability in our local fresh food supply, producers must be rewarded 'fairly' for their product. Without financial viability...more and more of our food will be produced offshore, beyond the controls of Australia's very strict health regulations.
So yes - today I am driven by this desire for the truth to be known, and the knowledge to be shared. Through the recently formed tourism arm of our business - 'Farmer Gregie' is able to share the fragility of the dairy farmers' situation, with the many 1,000s of visitors we have the pleasure of hosting on farm. Scenic Rim Robotic Dairy is also becoming increasingly involved with Schools and Education - our core target audience is intentially domestic, not international.
This gives us the perfect opportunity expain the potential benefit, of the co-existance of consumer and farmer, of city and country....FROM OUR FAMILY TO YOURS.
Let me know asap when your milk is available in store!!
Best of luck!!