WINGHAM farmers Vernon and Nicolle Brown have joined with Devondale Murray Goulburn to supply milk for Coles supermarkets.
Australia's largest dairy food company has recently secured a ten year contract to supply milk to the supermarket chain and sought to secure NSW farmers to help fulfil the contract.
This month the company will open an $80 million state of the art processing plant in Sydney that will be able to process 50,000 litres of milk an hour.
The new plant will be supplying milk for more than 400 Coles stores.
More than 150 NSW farmers have made the move to supply Devondale, with Vernon and Nicolle chosen as one of the featured farmers on the Devondale milk packaging and a YouTube promotion video.
"It was tempting for us to change," Vernon said.
The deal has given the Browns a better price per litre than they were previously getting with another dairy company.
It has also offered Vernon and Nicolle the reassurance they are working with a co-operative that is 100 per cent controlled by Australian dairy farmers. "The deal with Coles is giving the control back to farmers and keeping the proceeds in Australia," Vernon said.
A family legacy
FOR five generations the Browns have been farming from their 350 acres at The Bight and currently produce a million litres of milk a year.
Helping them milk their 140 cows are sons Aaron and Adrian who have been working full time on the farm since leaving school.
All three of Vernon and Nicolle's children have helped on the dairy since they were very young, learning to milk as soon as they could reach.
"Adrian would sit in a stroller whilst I milked," remembers Nicolle.
"The land gives you and your family stability if you are prepared to put in the work," said Vernon.
But the farming life hasn't been an easy one for the Browns.
With few holidays for many years and climatic variables it is sometimes hard to understand what drives a farmer.
"This season is probably one of our worse," admits Vernon.
"The drought has been so long."
Initially qualifying as a builder, Vernon returned to the farm when he was 21 after his father suffered a heart attack and needed help.
"They put their life into the farm," said Vernon of his parents, Ted and Marj.
Now the Browns feel fortunate to be able to reap the benefits of generations of farmers before them.
Manning Valley farmers now face some of the driest conditions on record but the Browns are doing what they've always done to survive - staying ahead of the game and improving all the time.
Vernon hopes his latest deal with Devondale Murray Goulburn will ensure the Brown family farm secures its rightful place in the future of Australian farming.