Building a Cocoon for dairy farmers

Next time you’re at the Kiama Farmers’ Market, congratulate Cressida Cains of Pecora Dairy for winning the NSW Rural Women’s Award for 2020.

Throughout her years in the dairy industry, Cressida has noticed a worrying trend of small dairy farms closing their gates because they cannot make a profit under the current model of selling their milk.

She applied for the award to help slow this trend by assisting dairy farmers to develop and produce unique branded products.

“I am passionate about supporting willing small-scale dairy farmers to transform and grow their businesses,” she says.

“To stop being price takers, and become price setters.

“To transform from producing a low value commodity to producing high value product.

“We farmers are a resilient lot and I do believe there is a bright future for dairy farming in this country.”

She will use the $10,000 bursary to create Dairy Cocoon, an online platform and support network to help dairy farmers to create their own branded products and create a secure and profitable long term future.

“Dairy Cocoon will assist small dairy farmers who wish to operate up the value chain with access to three things: business planning, education and industry connections.”

It will include a range of business tools, information and education, as well as an online community to facilitate connections and support.

The site will enable farmers to create industry and product specific business plans, with advice around profit and loss, and sales and marketing.

They will receive access to tailored training and education, including online courses and webinars, and they will be connected with industry experts and mentors.

“It would surprise many to learn that every year more than the last, Australia adds about 40,000 tonnes extra
of imported cheese to our supermarket isles whilst at the same time Australia’s milk production continues to decline,” says Cressida.

“Australia is actually on track to be a net importer of dairy products.”

She believes COVID-19 will encourage people to reject industrial food systems, in favour of local produce.

Pecora Dairy has been consistently recognised for its excellent product by the Delicious Awards. It is located in the northwest corner of the Kiama Municipality, near the Illawarra Fly. Cressida and her husband Michael have recently opened an outlet shop in Robertson. Cressida is a founding member of the Kiama Farmers Market.

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