Saputo to meet Murray Goulburn suppliers in Kiewa, Corryong in coming days

Making the pitch: Saputo chief executive Lino Saputo Jnr is meeting with Murray Goulburn suppliers to promote its bid to buy the ailing cooperative. Picture: Rob Gunstone
Making the pitch: Saputo chief executive Lino Saputo Jnr is meeting with Murray Goulburn suppliers to promote its bid to buy the ailing cooperative. Picture: Rob Gunstone

Saputo has two goals with Murray Goulburn – get suppliers back and pay a leading price for milk.

“We’ve always been about paying leading prices for dairy and we’ve proven that in the last three years that we’ve been operating WCB (Warrnambool Cheese and Butter),” chief executive Lino Saputo Junior told Fairfax Media.

“I think we’ve made some commitments to the dairy farmers that we’ve lived up to, and I think the same would be said for the MG suppliers.”

Mr Saputo is expected to address Murray Goulburn suppliers at meetings in Tangambalanga and Corryong on November 14.

“Murray Goulburn has unfortunately gone through some difficulty and they’ve lost a lot of milk so our primary priority is to try to increase the milk intake,” Mr Saputo said.

“I think the way we do that, again, is the same way we did that with WCB, is making commitments to the dairy farmer that we can live up to … If we don’t have the milk, we don’t have an industry.

“It’s extremely important the dairy producer has an opportunity to not only make a good living but to be able to consider succession planning.” 

He has already faced “hostile” suppliers at Koroit, Cobden and Mount Gambier and will have his work cut out convincing North East farmers Saputo has their interests at heart.

“The last two years have been unbelievably stressful,” said Kergunyah farmer and chair of the Alpine Valleys Dairy Pathways Program Stuart Crosthwaite.

“Financially, the chopping and changing, the decision making they’ve (MG) lumped on us, they’ve put us under an amazing amount of pressure.”

The Dairy Pathways Program has led the farming industry in successful succession planning modelling.

Murray Dairy Regional Extension Officer Ross Reid said any price promises should be treated with caution.

“A lot of farmers would have listened to what our previous boards have said and look where it’s got us,” Mr Reid said.

“So why should we believe in what they're saying now? That will be the hard bit, not having a lot of integrity left.”