With the current state of the market, the last thing most dairy farmers would be doing right now is investing in more infrastructure — unless you are Dale Fortescue.
The north Queensland dairy farmer is only one of three left on top of Eungella, above Mackay.
Mr Fortescue supplies Parmalat with his milk, but with only a few farms left on the Eungella Range he does not know how much longer the milk tankers will keep coming.
Next year that number falls to two but Mr Fortescue has been working hard to try and save his family business.
Earlier this year he launched a crowdfunding campaign to try and set up a new processing plant, and after some generous donations, it may be well on his way.
So far the dairy farmer has raised $40,000 and that is enough to start the first phase of his processing plant and buy a batch processer and possibly a bottle filler.
“It is 1,000 litres at a time [you can batch pasteurise] so you bring it up to around 63 degrees for half an hour and then cool it back down,” Mr Fortescue said.
The processer should enable him to produce 500,000 litres of milk per year, all of which he plans to sell into the local market.
Phase two still requires more crowdfunding, and that will include safe food recommendations, extra parts for the bottle filler and building the rest of the new dairy.
But just getting to this point is hard for Mr Fortescue to believe.
“I thought I would have to try and beg at my bank … but a lot of people talk about this crowdfunding and a lot of people have got behind it.”
Mr Fortescue estimates in total he will need more than $150,000, but now he can see light at what has been a very dark tunnel.
He hopes the local dairy industry may even re-build itself.
“If we get kicking along and we want more milk and the money is there I’m sure they’ll probably start up again, that is what I’m hoping,” Mr Fortescue said.
“I would have to buy more equipment to hold the milk so I could then pasteurise it but they would just bring it to me and I would be like the processor for them.”