Mountain Milk Coop

A new dairy co-op using a tried and tested method

Interview by Mutuo and BCCM
Photography by Mountain Milk

Mountain Milk Co-operative fast facts (July 2020)

  • Established: 2017 in Victoria
  • Turnover: $11.2 million
  • Member farms: 8

Mountain Milk Co-operative is a new farmer-owned co-operative that has been established in Victoria’s North East at a time of great challenge to the Australian dairy industry. Nationally, the number of dairy farms had fallen dramatically over the previous decade. The effects of the drought and volatile commodity markets pressured the farm gate price for milk. In addition, the failure of Murray-Goulburn, along with encroaching foreign corporate ownership, mean that the challenge to dairy farmers had never been greater.

Founded initially by five farming families, Mountain Milk’s purpose is to create value for its members. These farmers wanted to have greater control of their future, and not be directed by outside interests.

Mountain Milk seeks to give consumers the chance to purchase milk that is dedicated to the highest environmental and welfare standards (care for animals, care for the environment), whilst ensuring rural communities remain strong and vibrant.

The Mountain Milk Co-operative is good for regional Victoria. It maintains locally owned dairy farms to ensure the continuance of high-quality farming in the state. Its existence helps keep value in a region that, were it owned by corporate interests, would be lost to distant shareholders. Instead, local ownership and control means that value is created and recirculated in regional Australia.

The story of Mountain Milk Co-operative shows that new co-operatives are a part of the solution, even in markets as difficult as the dairy industry. They are a significant way of maintaining Australian milk production and local control of dairy farms.


Co-operative Conversations

Watch renowned agricultural journalist Pete Lewis as he talks to Stuart Crosthwaite, Chairperson of Mountain Milk Co-operative about their interesting journey, in Co-operative Conversations, Episode 2 Part 1: Interview.

Join journalist Pete Lewis and our farmer panel, including Stuart Crosthwaite, Chairperson of Mountain Milk Co-operative, as they discuss and explore the conditions and events that impact the rise and fall of agricultural co-operatives, in Co-operative Conversations, Episode 2 Part 2: Roundtable.

We chose a co-op as our structure for a reason, that we wanted everyone to be equal and treated the same, we wanted integrity in our business. It’s amazing they are not used more widely or the first choice structure! The one thing that has really surprised me with becoming a co-op operating under the co-op structure, is that the desire and cheering from the co-op sector for you to succeed is amazing and encouraging. The generosity and humility and genuine care is really impressive. I can’t remember who and how many people have reached out to lend support from you to all the academics and all the other co-ops. It’s really fantastic to know your not on your own and there is plenty of help if you want it. I think the University training in hindsight was a key in our journey plus help from BCCM and NSW Co-ops.
- Stuart Crosthwaite, Chairperson - Mountain Milk Co-operative

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