KURT Dye knew what he was getting into 12 months ago when he opted out of his landscaping business to take up dairy farming.

The dairy industry was at a low ebb but it was about to get worse. Kurt grew up on the Kow Swamp dairy farm owned by his parents, Stephen and Liz Dye, near Gunbower, on the Murray River.

The Dyes had supplied Kraft at the nearby Leitchville factory for many years before shifting to Murray Goulburn when it bought the plant in 2001.

After 15 years supplying Murray Goulburn, the allegiance frayed last year when the co-operative admitted it had got its milk price horribly wrong and decided to impose “clawback” payments on its suppliers.

Kurt said his family had just bought a second dairy farm to accommodate him, running 250 cows on each of the two neighbouring properties — but it was hard to make ends meet.

Today, their milk will be picked up by Australian Dairy Farmers Corporation, a company supplying the Bulla ice cream plant in Colac and yog­hurt and cream manufacturer Procal in Melbourne.

Kurt said ADFC would pay the family $6 a kg milk solids — a motivating factor for the move.

He said he was aware of 13 other local dairy farmers supplying MG who had switched to ADFC in recent weeks.

“Murray Goulburn have had a lot of people who have left since the clawback,” he said. “I reckon if Murray Goulburn don’t open with a higher seasonal price, they will lose others.”

Fellow dairy farmers who have switched from Murray Goulburn include Anthony and Helen Hogan, who run a dairy farm on Gunbower Island on the Murray River.

Mr Hogan said five of the nine dairying operations on Gunbower Island had switched from MG to other companies during the past three months.

“We switched to Fonterra, but we are thinking of going to Bega (Cheese),” he said.

“We’re not used to jumping from company to company.”

The motivation to switch dairy companies is straightforward: money.

Mr Hogan said: “We couldn’t pay all our bills this month. It is putting such a strain on us.”

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