By TONY MOBILIFONITIS
CENTRAL Queenslanders are distraught over the looming closure this month of one of the few truly independent milk producers and processors, wiped out of existence by a greedy global dairy company owned by a French billionaire family.
The owners of Central Queensland Dairy Fresh, who operate in the Coalstoun Lakes area near Gladstone and have been dairy farming for 117 years, were initially left high and dry by an independent milk processor who reneged on a handshake after CQ Dairy Fresh owner Robbie Radel, agreed to buy their operation.
Hundreds of supporters of Mr Radel and CQ Dairy Fresh have pleaded on social media for him to look for financial support or find shareholders. But CQ Dairy Fresh seems to have had enough of the industry, having already been subject of bullying by milk processor Pauls, now part of the Lactalis Group which dominates the globe.
Lactalis spins themselves as “a third-generation, family-owned business … with over 250 production sites and 85,000 employees across 90 countries.” That family is the Besnier dynasty, which originally established the Besnier Group in 1933. In 2022 the company was valued at USD$23.5 billion. CEO Emmanuel Besnier has been called the “French Howard Hughes” and “the Emperor of Cheese” and, because he is notable for avoiding the press is also called “the invisible billionaire”.
Cairns News seriously questions the ethics of a billionaire who owns the world’s biggest dairy company but avoids public exposure. We wonder who might be pulling Besnier’s strings, since the company is signed up to the UN Sustainable Development goals. Is it Klaus Schwab the eco-Nazi who wants to destroy traditional farming and feed us bugs?
We can also see that Lactalis is run by virtue-signalling hypocrites, given this load of horse manure spooned out by the group’s North American CEO and president Jean Luc Bruandet: “Globally, our sustainability efforts support Lactalis Group’s global corporate social responsibility focused on People & Community, Authentic Products & Heritage, and Land & Resources. These areas are further championed by five key priorities of climate, animal welfare, packaging, water and biodiversity.”
CQ Dairy Fresh owner Robbie Radel, after his sabotaged attempt to buy the former independent processor Cooloola Milk, then offered as a last resort to sell his milk to Lactalis, whose trucks drive past his property. A woman field officer from the company was informed but sent an text back saying management weren’t interested.
A Lactilis spokesman told the ABC the company that at the time that the enquiry was made to Lactalis on July 17th they “had sufficient milk to meet our requirements” but it’s well known that demand for milk outstrips supply. It’s also well known that big dairy corporates simply want to dominate and concentrate markets for their crappy, over-processed white milk and their highly profitable sugary junk “milk” products like Oak, Breaka and Ice. Lactilis also produces a range of mass produced, so-called “gourmet cheeses”.
Lactalis’ excuse for refusing CQ Dairy Fresh’s high quality milk was that they publish their Milk Supply Agreements by 2pm on June 1, and have the supply agreements finalised with each farmer by the start of the new milk season commencing July 1. But this same company is prepared to truck milk all the way from Victoria to Queensland, no doubt supplied by farmers whose supply price has been screwed down to subsistence levels by these corporate bullies.
Mr Radel posted on social media: “It’s been a hell of a ride since we took the leap of faith and made the decision to step away from the ‘safety’ of supplying milk to a major processor and starting our own brand some years ago,” he said.
“That decision to start our own brand was more or less forced on us by Paul’s Parmalat paying such a low farm gate price that it was either do our own thing or slowly go broke under their payment scheme.
“They took their opportunity to screw us hard when we gave them notice that we were leaving them to do our own brand and then continued to actively work hard against us in the market place with absolute malicious lies about us and threatening shop owners if they supported us by stocking our milk that they would remove fridges and increase the wholesale prices etc.”
CQ Dairy Fresh received strong support from dozens of shops, cafes, corner stores, home delivery recipients and other supporters of the brand. “We have thrived and our business has been on a continual path of growth since day one – until earlier this year when it all went pear shaped,” said Mr Radel.
“We have always avoided high overhead costs by getting our milk processed by Cooloola Milk Co based just outside of Gympie and have been incredibly grateful for the service they’ve provided to us over the years we’ve done business with them.
“However, the owners of Cooloola have decided it’s time to hang up their own cups in their dairy and retire, which in fact provided us with an exciting opportunity to potentially purchase their farm, processing plant, brand and everything that goes along with it.”
But after agreeing on a purchase price and waiting for six days for a contract to sign, the vendors came back with an extra $1.3 million on the purchase price. “Needless to say we had words over that and the lack of integrity shown by them to go back on the handshake deal we had. I simply couldn’t make the business case stack up well enough to go any further on that deal,” he said.
“We frantically started discussions with other milk processors to try and find an alternative solution in order to keep our pride and joy brand going, but to no avail as we simply couldn’t find a viable option.
Last resort was to approach Lactilis (Pauls milk) to see if they’d collect our milk and if they’d agree we could reluctantly relinquish the brand but still remain dairy farming – something we have done since 1906.”
Mr Radel said the family was absolutely gutted, because walking away from a five-generation, family-owned and run dairy farming business that has been in operation for 117 continuous years was something they never imagined they would have to do – “especially not by being forced out due to lack of somewhere to send high quality milk in a country that is now a net importer of dairy products.”
Apologising for the language, Mr Radel left a poignant comment: “F..k big business and their seeming determination to screw the little guys and farmers. I will always encourage people to support the battlers and small businesses because they are what our country was built on and will die without.”
Dairy farmers who supply big operations like Lactalis should be aware, as we have shown, that these corporations are following destructive anti-farming WEF policies which have no place for healthy, independent farming and related resource industries. Their game is centralisation and control of food production.
Even the conservative Institute for Public Affairs is warning against these globalist policies being slavishly implemented at governmental levels. “Governments across Australia are forging ahead with their attacks on farmers, fishers and foresters, with the latest blow aimed against the Murray-Darling irrigators after the federal government recently passed legislation through the lower house cutting their water allocations.”
On the consumer side, maybe it’s time we spent a dollar or two more on the remaining independent dairies in Queensland such as Maleny Dairies, Baramba Organics, Kenilworth Dairies, 4Real Milk from Beaudesert or even the quite expensive raw, organic Cleopatra’s Bath Milk.
Other independent Australian-owned dairies are listed in the Shop Ethical consumers’ guide, which names most of the brands and their owners. The only organic brand to be avoided is the one owned by Lactalis. Even Norco, a cheaper supermarket brand, is a better option since it is owned by a farmers co-operative.