Casino farmer Terry Toohey sees the closure of the Wollongbar Agricultural Institute dairy as a short-sighted decision.
Casino farmer Terry Toohey sees the closure of the Wollongbar Agricultural Institute dairy as a short-sighted decision.

Milk shake-up angers farmers

By NERIDA BLOK

AFTER thinking the battle was over, Norco chairman Greg McNamara can only shake his head in disappointment at the State Government's decision to close the dairy at the Wollongbar Agricultural Institute.

For eight months, Mr McNamara and a team of Norco staff co-ordinated efforts to keep the dairy going, and to continue its sub-tropical dairy research.

However, the group's proposal was rejected this week.

"They say our proposal didn't meet their criteria," Mr McNamara said. "It has demonstrated their commitment to maintaining it was never there."

Mr McNamara said the proposal included ways to subsidise the operating costs of the dairy, four research projects and commercial sponsorship. "But it wasn't enough," he said.

"Their response to each project was that it didn't need the dairy. They have ignored the fact that sub-tropical high rain- fall climate research can not be replicated elsewhere in Australia."

Mr McNamara said they were also disappointed in their peak industry body, Dairy Australia.

"We've been given lip service," he said.

"We've given them close to $1 million in research and advertising levies ? $500,000 from us, with each dollar matched by government. And we're not even able to determine what future projects we want."

Mr McNamara said the immediate impact would be the loss of 1.5 million litres of milk sup- plied to Norco from the dairy each year.

"Secondly, there's the pasturebased nutrition researcher lost to Camden, so we will lose that skill base," he said.

He feared redundancies could be expected.

Norco will write to the State Minister for Agriculture, Ian Macdonald, asking for an expla- nation on the decision.

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