Securing a future for our dairy farmers

1st May 2020 | Eativity editors

Southern Highlands dairy farmer Cressida Cains has been awarded the 2020 NSW-ACT AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award for her work in promoting a profitable and secure future for Australian dairy farmers.

Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall congratulated Cains and awarded her with a $10,000 Westpac bursary, which will be used to develop her project, Dairy Cocoon.

“Cressida is an outstanding winner and is passionate about supporting small scale farmers to adapt and grow their businesses,” Marshall says.

“She will use her bursary to create an online platform that will assist dairy farmers to develop and produce their own unique branded products.”

Cressida Cains. Image: Dave Smyth.

Cains is co-founder of artisan sheep milk dairy and cheesery, Pecora Dairy, which is located in Robertson, NSW. She says work will now begin to get Dairy Cocoon up and running, which will enable farmers to create industry- and product-specific business plans.

“I’m so proud to be a part of this amazing award and have the opportunity to turbocharge my project,” Cains says. “[Dairy Cocoon] will include a range of business tools, information and education, as well as an online community to facilitate connections and support that meets the needs of the dairy industry.”

An eye to the future.

A crisis in dairy

Cains grew up in the Southern Highlands and her heart has always been on the land. Through her years working in the dairy industry, she noticed a worrying trend.

“Small dairy farms are closing their gates at an alarming rate,” she says. “Many simply cannot make a profit under the current model.”

Cains claims that 40% of dairy farmers rate the viability of their farm as poor, with their fate lying at the mercy of huge retail and processor market power. Farmers told Cains that they needed assistance if they were to produce their own branded product and take back control of their businesses.

The concept of Dairy Cocoon evolved in response to this crisis in Australian dairy. The powerful online platform and support hub will help small dairy farmers to formulate a business plan, get educated and get connected with the community and its expertise.

Cains says the importance of Australian dairy businesses cannot be underestimated, and that once they’re gone, the landscape of the industry will be changed forever.

“I have seen small dairies transform and create fantastic brands,” she says. “I want to help more small dairy farmers do likewise – to break the shackles of being a price taker and start seeing the profits for all their years of hard work.”