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Dairy Farm Advocates for Education and Awareness

Dairy Farm Advocates for Education and Awareness


Dairy Farm Advocates for Education and Awareness

Article by: Hari Yellina

By opening its doors to the public, a dairy farm on the Mid North Coast hopes to raise public understanding of farming. Emily and Matt Neilson live with their sons Joseph and Henry on the family-run farm in Johns River, NSW, south of Port Macquarie. The pair started dairy farming near Dungog in 2015 with 55 cows and an outdated eight-bale walk-through dairy. At the end of 2021, they relocated their cows and family to the Mid North Coast, allowing them to develop and make their operations more profitable. Farmers have numerous hurdles, according to Ms Neilson, which is having an influence on the financial side of the business.

The cows’ feet have become incredibly soft as a result of weeks of nonstop rain, and rock has been exposed on laneways. “When you combine the two, you get very uncomfortable feet for the cows,” she explained. “Walking them twice a day to and from paddocks demands patience and sensitivity.” The dairy farm is also dealing with a lot of moisture in the soil, which is affecting the paddocks’ nutrient quality. “The cows may graze grass all day and still be hungry,” Ms Neilson explained. The rainy and muddy weather has also increased the number of cows with mastitis. Ms. Neilson believes it is critical to reconnect customers with the milk they consume, its origins, and the people who produce it.

She claims that the majority of consumers have no knowledge of where their milk comes from or the issues farmers experience during production. Ms Neilson used the example of supermarkets offering reduced milk to customers for just $1 per litre. “While consumers were happy to buy it, dairy producers were going bankrupt and fighting through a severe drought,” Ms Neilson explained. Ms. Neilson believes that the price of milk should reflect the difficulties that farmers face. “There shouldn’t be a pricing that stays the same,” she remarked. The production capacity of the Johns River farm is anticipated to be two-thirds full. “Because of the weather circumstances that have harmed dairy farming for so many years, the customer has no notion there is a milk scarcity.”

The Dairy, John’s River is a farm-based educational programme that allows visitors to meet some of the animals and learn about life on a dairy farm. In 2021, the Hunter Region Business Excellence Award for Tourism and Hospitality was given to the Dairy. Tours of the farm are available, and reservations may be arranged at