Rokeby sharefarmers Kevin and Siahn Lebrocq, and John and Gwen Foord, have been named in the Top 100 farmers in the 2017 Dairy Australia Countdown Milk Quality Awards for the second successive year.
“Murray Goulburn has ruined me physically, financially and mentally,” the Woolsthorpe farmer said.
“I’ve had a gutful. You can only get belted over the head so often; you can’t keep coming back.”
Mr McLaren had been hoping for an opening price around $5.50 but more realistically expected $5.30 with step-ups to boost it towards $6 later in the year.
However, the season opening of $4.70/kg milk solids with a forecast closing price of between $5.20kg and $5.40/kg MS has him “gobsmacked”.
Now Mr McLaren is weighing up options for transferring to another company, although he admits his choices are limited.
“I’m looking elsewhere now but my options aren’t great. We will look at Saputo or the Midfield Group or give it away.
“At $4.70 and when you factor in the 10 cents promised for loyalty it’s $4.60, I can’t make a living; nobody can.”
“I’ve been a Murray Goulburn man for well over 40 years. I’ve been supplying them since the Grassmere factory closed and they initially came to the district.”
Mr McLaren has spoken to his accountant and says he will make a “calculated decision” on his future. “We haven’t done the sums. We don’t want to jump out of the frying pan into the fire. It has to be a commercial decision.”
Mr McLaren, who milks more than 700 cows, said that starting at the low price would cost him $480,000.
“We produced 480,000 kg/MS last year and if we’re a dollar under our competitors that means I just lost $480,000.”
He remains frustrated about the co-operative’s problems.
“I understand they’re hamstrung in regard to what they can do, but I want to know why.”
“If Saputo are trying to source millions of litres to run a cheese factory; Murray Goulburn has one at Cobram – why can’t we sell the same product and chase an extra 10 million litres.”
The 65-year-old is now considering his future.
“I’m working my arse off for nothing. I don’t mind working hard but I want to be paid for it.”