PYREE dairy farmer Ian Zandstra has stepped down as chair of the Dairy Farmers Milk Co-operative.
Mr Zandstra leaves the co-op after 15 years, 10 of them as chairman, deciding not to seek re-election as a director at the AGM in November.
The co-operative represents about 700 dairy farmers, mostly in NSW and Queensland, Mr Zandstra said it is going back to dairy farming.
“I have been there long enough, there will always be issues, I just felt it was time to move on.”
It is certainly a long way from when he first started his career on the Nowra Dairy Co-operative in 1983 and then the Shoalhaven Dairy Co-operative.
He has been at the Dairy Farmers helm through some of the most challenging times in the industry’s history.
He has been through mergers, take-over attempts, restructuring, corporatising and the sale to Lion.
“I think there are lots of challenges in business, there are always market changes and pressures.
“But I hope there will be fewer challenges for the Dairy Farmers Milk Co-operative.
“The biggest challenge for me and for the farmers was to work under a banner that was not a co-operative after the Dairy Farmers sale.
“It was absolutely vital that the Dairy Farmers Milk Co-operative was there and still is. Farmers need collective representation – they need a voice.
He will concentrate on the family’s two farms, the operation at Pyree is milking about 700 cows and their Victorian operation about 400 cows.
“While I have enjoyed what I have been doing with the board for the past 15 years it will be good to get back to farming,” he said.
“It was a very time consuming job and it has been a long haul.
“If I didn’t like it I couldn’t have done it.
“Farmers needed a voice, someone to stand up for them in the commercial world especially and I felt it was my duty.
“The co-operative has less milk than it had, Lions’ needs have decreased but saying that we have done our bit to keep the competitive market strong.
He sees the further expansion of the Murray Goulburn Co-operative into the milk market as a good move.
“It adds more competition that is a good thing,” he said.
“There is more choice for farmers and more homes for their milk.
“And there has been a lack of competition for too long.
“It is good to have competition for local farmers’ milk.
He said dairying has a strong future.
“But the farmer has to realise there is a cost price squash going on always. Costs go up and prices may not move,” he said.
“Farmers need systems of management to cope with that and most of that coping is done by growing – getting bigger.
“That is not necessarily an easy thing, the lack of availability of land is one problem.
“Any serous growth takes capital.”