For Geoff Atkinson, the ability to keep his milk in Tasmania sealed the deal when Ashgrove Cheese was looking for organic dairy producers to supply its new organic non-homogenised milk.
Mr Atkinson has been supplying Ashgrove with milk from his Cuprona farm Ellenview since July, after previously supplying Murray Goulburn and Lion.
“Lion was very good to work for and Murray Goulburn were excellent up until everything crashed,” Mr Atkinson said.
“It has been a very easy transition [to Ashgrove]. We almost feel like we’re part of the Bennett family,” he said.
Between Mr Atkinson and fellow Mount Hicks organic farmer Kevin Frankcombe, they supply 1600 litres of organic milk per day, with the aim of being at 2000 litres by Christmas.
“We were sick of being price takers and wanted to set our own story,” Mr Atkinson said.
“We want to supply the best quality we can do,” he said.
Ellenview became fully organic certified in October after being in transition for six months.
The conversion to organic farming practices took three years, but Mr Atkinson said the previous owner’s good farming practices and support from the industry made it easier.
“This farm leant itself well to [organic]. It was well looked after and there was not a lot of chemical residue [in the pasture],” Mr Atkinson said.
“I went to New Zealand and spoke with organic dairy farmers there and in Victoria,” he said.
Mr Atkinson was approached by 14 different organisations who wanted his milk, but keeping his product for the local market was his preference.
Ashgrove Cheese helped pioneer on-farm processing more than 25 years ago and continues to innovate, director and general manager Richard Bennett said.
“We realised early on the responsibility that comes with producing food for families, and our commitment to value family farms and values like health, community and environmental stewardship has never wavered,” Mr Bennett said.
“We believe dairy enriches life from grass to cow to you and we are more committed than ever to bringing you the very best. The two Tasmanian organic farms have very high standards and these standards fit with our milk supply,” he said.