Business

Will Chinese babies save our dairy industry?

INVESTMENT: Norco's $4.5 million faith in dairy future.
INVESTMENT: Norco's $4.5 million faith in dairy future.

THE Gympie region is on the cusp of a new era of prosperity with confirmation yesterday that Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart is planning a $500 million investment in the Mary Valley and South Burnett to export infant formula to China.

The planned operation will directly employ about 400 people and create one of Australia's biggest dairy farms, producing up to 30,000 tonnes of baby formula a year as well as UHT (ultra-high temperature processing) milk.

Production is hoped to begin in the second half of 2016, according to a Sydney Morning Herald interview with Hope Dairies' co-investor and director Dave Garcia.

Hope Dairies is controlled by Mrs Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting Ltd.

It wants to acquire 5000ha of farmland in the South Burnett and build a processing facility in the Mary Valley.

The Gympie Times understands the processing plant will be built on an 800ha property near the Bruce Hwy interchange with the Mary Valley Link Road, at the corner of Carlson Rd and the Old Bruce Hwy.

It is unsure yet exactly where the South Burnett dairy farm will be established - whether it will be closer to Kingaroy or Gympie.

But one thing is certain: this changes the playing field for our region's ailing dairy industry.

Dairy industry leader John Cochrane yesterday described it as the "best news" he had heard in his 59 years.

Mrs Rinehart's move comes as Australian miners expand into food production to tap into the rising demand from Asia's middle classes. The $18 billion infant formula market in China is forecast to double by 2017, after the world's most populated nation loosened its one-child policy last year.

"There's another 50 million mouths probably coming online," Mr Garcia told the SMH.

The deal is not finalised, but is expected to be signed next week.

The planned operation will adhere to strict biosecurity standards and produce 70-75% of its own milk from a herd of about 16,000 holstein cattle, including 10,500 milkers.

The rest of its milk will be sourced from local dairy farms.

Talking with industry experts, The Gympie Times understands there are logistical hurdles to overcome regarding the farm in the South Burnett, including water supply, feed and milking facilities, none of which have ever been attempted in Queensland on such a scale.

China in May tightened its standards on imported formula following concerns over contamination. In 2008, locally made milk powder contaminated with the chemical melamine killed at least six infants in China.

Federal Trade Minister Andrew Robb told a dairy conference in Melbourne earlier this year Australia's food and agriculture sectors had to seize on the chance to feed Asia's expanding middle class.

Chamber welcomes short and long term benefits

GYMPIE Chamber of Commerce president Ben Ellingsen joined the chorus of welcome to news of the impending investment yesterday.

"This investment presents another tremendous opportunity for not only the Mary Valley, but the wider Gympie region," Mr Ellingsen said.

"Investments on this scale provide significant initial and ongoing economic benefits.

"Not only does it give our dairy farmers a much-needed shot in the arm, but the ripple effect to numerous other industries is exciting for our region.

"More employment means money flowing around our economy which means that businesses that would not otherwise directly benefit will receive an indirect benefit - everybody wins.

"It also adds to the confidence that has been generated from recent commercial investments in our region."

Project to restore processing capacity, says QDO

THE Queensland Dairyfarmers' Organisation has welcomed news of plans for Hope Dairies Ltd's $500 million investment.

It yesterday described the move as the first major investment in the Queensland dairy industry since the late 1990s.

QDO president Brian Tessmann said the local industry was excited by the prospect of the project, which would include big investments in both farms and milk processing facilities, and was bypassing the problems associated with the domestic milk value chain and proving the high value for the long term for Queensland milk.

"The investment would restore dairy processing capacity which Queensland has lost over the last decade and a half," Mr Tessmann said.

"China presents a real opportunity for our industry to form close partnerships to supply high quality dairy products to their growing population, and in particular infant formula. This opportunity will provide much-needed diversification for our Queensland dairy industry.

"We hope it will provide a range of opportunities for our existing Queensland dairy farming families, which have suffered greatly in recent years from natural and manmade disasters including from the supermarket milk price war and now drought."

Gympie Times

Topics:  china, dairy, dairy farmers, editors picks, gympie




Family of five left homeless after fire destroys residence

Fire fighters have rushed to a house fire at Pie Creek.

A house has burned to the ground at Pie Creek

Did I mention how beautiful my wife is?

HUSBAND AND WIFE: Bruce and Tracey Devereaux.

Bruce tries in a very public way to pull his foot out of his mouth.

St Vinnies to reopen after reno

St Vincent's De Paul Gympie. From left, volunteer of 16 years Val Barnes with Jessie Thomson volunteer since 1991 with Robyn Nothdurft a new volunteer with Mary Condon President of St Patrick's Conference. The ladies are showing off the Wagga's - blankets made by another volunteer from re-cycled fabrics together with other facilities that St Vincent De Paul offer.

Reopening of St Vinnies ahead after $28K renovations.

Latest deals and offers

Diva's sister on soliciting charge

FILE - In this May 14, 2016 file photo, Mariah Carey attends the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, in New York. Carey will appear on the Oct. 5 episode of the Fox series, \"Empire,\" the network confirmed Monday at a TV critics bi-annual press tour. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

Mariah Carey's sister has been arrested on charges of prostitution.

Tom Cruise private jets his gym kit around the world

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise charters private to take his gym kit around the world

Movie behind Depp and Heard split to be released

Soon you'll be able to see the movie that ended the marriage

Bindi's boyfriend helps release huge croc

Chandler (far right) helped the jump team.

Chandler Powell helps catch Duncan the croc

Mick Jagger to pay £2.5m to the woman carrying his baby

Mick Jagger is reportedly paying millions to pregnant ballerina

27,000 through Muster gates over four days

MUSTER HAD A BLAST: Melissa Houston, Kammie Garner, Nedizah Thierry and Renee Williams were four of almost 27,000 people through Muster gates over four days.

Perfect days, freezing nights and 27,000 through the Muster gates

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

$100m plan for Curtis Island 'world class' luxury resort

$100 million resort: Top views at Turtle Street at Curtis Island.

"At the moment we think it meets all the town planning approvals.”

Noosa mayor on "red alert" over planning court decision

Mayor Tony Wellington hands down his first budget.

Mayor upset at lack of say about look and feel of Noosa