Gippsland Jersey: a better way for dairy
Gippsland Jersey was founded by Sallie Jones and Steve Ronalds. Both had dairy farming in their blood – Ronalds had taken over his family’s dairy farm in Jindivick; Jones was born and raised on a dairy farm in Lakes Entrance. The two were brought together when calamity struck both Ronalds and Jones personally and the industry as a whole.
In November 2015, a motorbike accident left Ronalds with broken ribs, a broken collarbone, a broken shoulder blade, a punctured lung and short-term memory loss. After a long hospital stay, he returned to his farm, but his arm and shoulder were too weak and painful for milking. He was unable to milk his cows for eight months. For this fourth-generation dairy farmer, it brought into sharp focus the unique vulnerability of life on the land.
In April of the following year, Jones tragically lost her father to suicide. Not long after this, major milk processor Murray Goulburn slashed the farmgate milk price. Farmers were being paid less than what it cost to produce milk for the company. This became known as the “dairy crisis”. It left a trail of debt and despair on dairy farms across the country. Thousands of smaller family dairy farms were forced to close.
Daring to be different
For Ronalds, his accident and the dairy crisis left him wondering how he might add value to the quality Jersey milk he was producing. Meanwhile, grief-stricken Jones was determined to honour her father’s legacy. With the industry still reeling from Murray Goulburn’s actions, the two came together to address the twin challenges of how to produce quality milk sustainably while also supporting struggling farmers. Gippsland Jersey was born.
Gippsland Jersey does things differently, sourcing milk from smaller family farms and paying farmers a fair price for what they produce. By sidestepping large milk processors and value-adding already premium local Jersey milk, the company ensures both a healthy wage for farmers and a better choice for consumers.
Further, by manufacturing in regional Victoria, this keeps the dollars local. As part of their commitment to the local farming community, Jones and Ronalds also work to create change in rural mental health by breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Building a fairer future
After purchasing raw milk from local dairy farms, Gippsland Jersey processes the milk in-house at the Jones family farm. From a humble base of milk sales, Gippsland Jersey’s product range has rapidly grown. It now includes full-cream milk, unhomogenised milk, light milk, buttermilk, cream, sour cream, cultured salted and unsalted butter and golden ghee.
The company continues to innovate to meet demand for delicious, fairly priced dairy products. As well as creating new products, Gippsland Jersey also works to find new markets and new dairy suppliers. Provenance, traceability, authenticity and sustainability are at the forefront; consumers can follow the provenance of Gippsland Jersey products via the company’s social media and YouTube channels. These share the stories of dairy farmers while also raising awareness of the importance of good mental health.
For Jones and Ronalds, this is just the beginning of their story. The two have an ongoing commitment to producing milk that’s good and fair for everybody.
Gippsland Jersey milk can be found across Victoria and in NSW at Coles, Woolworths, IGAs, Ritchies and Foodworks as well as cafes and providores. Gippsland Jersey is just one of the awesome Australian food producers you can find listed on the new EATIVITY Local Food Directory. The EATIVITY Local Food Directory is on a mission to support the local food movement by connecting consumers with local, sustainable and artisan food producers, growers and farmers right across the country. Are you an Australian food producer who’d like to sign up or find out more information? Just head straight to the directory today or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.