Stanhope farmer ready for advocacy

By Country News

Craig Emmett from Stanhope has taken on the role of vice-president for the West Goulburn branch of United Dairy Farmers of Victoria after a trip to New Zealand earlier this year inspired him to become involved in advocacy.

He will be working alongside Rob Schloss from Stanhope, who is the branch president.

Mr Emmett said he felt it was time to start taking more of an interest in the industry he is so passionate about.

‘‘I attended the UDV study tour in February and I was surprised and impressed by their dairy industry compared to Australia’s. Of course they have had environmental and animal right pressures which have forced them to become more organised, but as an industry they just seem so much more united,’’ he said.

‘‘I worked as an agronomist before I came back home on the farm in 2014. I love dairying, I love being my own boss and it is not just a career for me, it’s that old cliché — it’s also a lifestyle.’’

Agronomy has given Mr Emmett a solid background and he is certainly looking forward to the challenge of taking over the family farm in the future.

He is the fourth generation to farm on the family property Shenstone that was first settled by his great-grandfather W.H. Emmett in 1917.

Mr Emmett farms with his parents Gordon and Lyn, milking 200 cows.

The business is currently in the process of going organic.

‘‘Turning organic guarantees us a future. We have six months to go and we are certainly looking forward to getting our first organic milk cheque,’’ Mr Emmett said.

The business has been guaranteed a minimum price of $8/kgMS.

Craig said he and his father had always been interested in sustainability and they had been thinking about organics for quite a while.

They had already stopped using synthetic fertilisers and after they joined processor ACM, it seemed like a natural progression for their business.

‘‘We were lucky enough to join ACM just before Fonterra dropped the milk price back in 2016,’’ Mr Emmett said.

‘‘ACM has a lot of support and information for their suppliers so we decided to go ahead and turn organic. We have six months to go until we are certified and I have been amazed how much our soil’s health has improved and how well the paddocks bounce back after grazing now.

‘‘Once you get the soils and nutrients right you don’t seem to have too many issues.’’

He said traversing the conversion period had not been too difficult.

‘‘We just have to farm a little differently when it comes to laying out paddocks. When we renovate pasture we obviously can’t spray Roundup, we have to work the soil up and I am thinking we might need to get some sort of deep ripping disc in the future.’’

Mr Emmett said the biggest concern when it came to organics was finding a protein source.

By the end of summer they should have 20ha of lucerne established.

They are currently milking off 70ha but Mr Emmett is hoping that once everything is lasered that figure will be up about 100ha.

‘‘We are aiming to grow as much fodder as we can ourselves and down the track we might even look at growing some grain.’’

The family has an additional 40ha that is used for young stock and hay.

In 2014 the family modernised the farm’s irrigation infrastructure through the on-farm irrigation efficiency program.

‘‘I would do the works again but in hindsight I would buy back the 100Ml of water we gave up — water is just so valuable to northern Victorian dairy farmers.’’