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2 May, 2020

Buffalo farmer feels the heat

Mitch is the only buffalo dairy farmer on the Tablelands

By Phil Brandel

As most people drive past Mitch Humphries farm at Millaa Millaa they always take a second look at his cows.

That’s because his cows are buffalo, Mitch is the only buffalo dairy farmer on the Tablelands.

Mitch has been running his Australian Dairy Buffalo Company since 2000 and says the COVID-19 crisis has had a crushing effect on his business.

“It’s really tough at the moment; we are down 40 percent on production”

He said after breeding buffalo cows for 20 years it was likely he would need to dispose of his herd.

"We can only go on so long pouring milk out and having zero income — with all the costs associated with feeding the animals and running the dairy." he said

“I’ve had to go back to once a day milking which will affect my business for the next 18 months.”

Mitch says there are eight buffalo dairies in Australia and only two in Queensland.

“At the moment a buffalo dairy is not really sustainable,” he said

“Farmers are being forced to either physically dump milk down the drain, or are giving milk away at unviable prices,

“Due to the high dependence on the restaurant trade, most orders have been massively reduced or stopped overnight.”

Mitch says one of the biggest hurdles is getting product to the consumers

“Small boutique suppliers are trying to do home delivery or pickup services and they’re asking independent supermarkets to stock our product,” he said

“Many decades of the dedicated breeding of buffalo suitable for milk production, and the farming skills associated with this, could end,

“Animals would be sold to be slaughtered at abattoirs and the loss of a large number of Australian jobs would occur at farm, cheese production, wholesale and retail levels.

Mitch says there are a few things that consumers can do to help his farm and other buffalo dairies around Australia.

“We need the public to #buybuffalo so that the supermarkets and other outlets will take our Australian grown and made buffalo products,

“Buy from pizza shops, delicatessens and gourmet food markets and if they don’t have it, ask them to stock it or use it in their take away products,

“Even a simple thing like ordering buffalo mozzarella on your pizza from buffalo milk produced in Australia will help an Aussie farm, processor, wholesaler and retailer,

“Angelo’s fine foods in Cairns are a distributor of our cheese and Nick’s restaurant at Yungaburra also serves our cheese.”

Mitch has been a member of the Australian Buffalo Industry Council for the past 12 years, having been a former Federal vice-president and is currently the organisation’s Queensland representative.

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