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A farmer on a mission and his green tractor reach Rockhampton

GREG Dennis is a farmer on a mission to save the dairy industry.

The milk enthusiast, who goes by the name of 'Farmer Gregie', runs a farm in Queensland's southern-most dairy region on the Scenic Rim and has set out on an 18 days, 2000km drive in his bright green tractor to rally support for struggling dairy farmers.

On a GoFundMe page set up to support his mission, Farmer Gregie, who was named 2014 Australian Dairy Farmer of the Year, explained his passion.

"It's been a hell of a ride, but as financial pressures on farmers - custodians of the land, producers of our food - escalate, I feel compelled to communicate the message and connect with the consumer before it's too late," Farmer Gregie said.

"The situation is more dire than many realise, and despite my core knowledge as an Aussie - the issues we face at home in Australia are of global significance. Depletion of fresh food supplies are driven by corporate greed. Shelf life has become more important than your health.

"No matter what happens, or is happening in the financial space - food is today, and will always remain king. Without your health, you will never be positioned to enjoy you wealth. At the top of the tree, or in the depths of poverty, nothing is more valuable than food, ever."

While only travelling at a snails pace of 30km/hr, his goal is to reach Queensland's northern-most dairy region, the Atherton Tablelands.

After starting his journey on Sunday, Farmer Gregie reached Rockhampton yesterday and as he travelled in to town, gave an insight into the region's dairy farming past.

"We've had our overnight stay in Calliope and we're now heading into the big Beef Capital of Australia, Rockhampton," Farmer Gregie said as he passed over the Yeppen Bridge.

"This are used to be quite a strong dairy region and the Port Curtis region, the original co-op, almost 100 years ago now or it might be more than 100 years ago that it was first established so there's no reason why we couldn't re-establish a dairy strong-hold in Rockhampton.

"It's not like the country is no good for dairy cattle. It's just that the cost of production is a little higher."

Farmer Gregie said the reason farmers continue to leave the industry in all parts of Australia, especially in sub-tropical Queensland, is because they're just not getting paid enough money for their milk.

"It really does make a lot more sense to reinvigorate dairy in these regions and enable farmers to run a profitable business. Farmers that are going to produce milk locally and feed to the people who live here,' he said.

"Towns like Rockhampton, as we go up the coast to Mackay, Townsville, Cairns, there's nowhere near enough dairy farms left any more to feed the people who live there so what we're actually seeing is milk travelling thousands and thousands of kilometres, two, three, four thousand kilometres to be able to provide fresh milk, 'fresh milk' for the people in these towns. It's a crazy situation.

"We've got to stimulate and grow the dairy industry back to what it once was."

While in Rockhampton, Farmer Gregie visited Rockhampton Grammar School where he spent an hour speaking with students and toured the school's Ag Plot.

The trip will also form part of a documentary which he has been shooting since January - Milking It: Our Fresh Food Future, telling the story of the milk crisis in Australia and the state of food security.

To support Farmer Gregie's cause, donate at https://www.gofundme.com/25cv46s.

Topics:  dairy farmer dairy industry farmer of the year milk prices


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