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VDL Co operates 13 dairy farms on its Woolnorth property and a further 12 dairy farms in the wider Circular Head region with approximately 26,000 dairy cows. VDL Co is set to inject an additional $100 million into the North-West economy with a large-scale herd expansion.

THE Van Diemen’s Land Company plans to develop 11 new dairy farms on its Woolnorth property.

The expansion will create 58 immediate direct permanent roles, add 14,000 milking cows to its herd and inject an additional $100 million into the North-West economy.

VDL currently operates 13 dairy farms on the Woolnorth property and a further 12 dairy farms in the wider Circular Head region with about 26,000 dairy cows on 19,000 hectares, making it Australia’s single largest milk supplier.

VDL chief executive officer Michael Guerin says the dairy expansion plan required strategic clearing of about 1800 hectares of native vegetation.

The final farm plans are being lodged for formal federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation assessment – the final step needed in the regulatory approvals process.

“Now that we have approvals for our Forest Practices Plan and Vegetation Management Agreement, we can submit our draft Environmental Impact Statement for federal government EPBC assessment,” Mr Guerin said.

“By 2020, the mature operation should yield almost three times the total value added to $100 million and almost double the direct and indirect regional employment to 526 jobs.”

Mr Guerin said in the past two years, milk processing capacity in Tasmania had accelerated rapidly and VDL was in a good position to capitalise on that growth.

He said Dairy Tasmania’s Filling the Factories strategy required a 40 per cent growth in farm milk production over the next five years, requiring more farms, more cows and more people in order to double historical growth rates to meet the new processing capacity.

“We’ve seen major investment in milk processing, such as Fonterra’s $6.5 million gas conversion at Spreyton and $12 million upgrade of its Wynyard cheese plant,” he said.

“Tasmanian Dairy Products has invested $75 million in a new milk powder operation in Smithton with a capacity of 250 million litres while Lion is investing $150 million in a new plant in Burnie, which centralises its national cheese-making and adds 50 to 100 million litres of additional milk processing capacity.

“Investments are also planned on King Island, while Cadbury is investing $20 million in its chocolate-making facilities at Burnie and Claremont and Tamar Valley Dairy, Red Cow Dairies and Ashgrove Cheese have all invested in new processing capacity.”

Mr Guerin said the aim was to increase milk production from Woolnorth and other VDL farms from 6.25 million kilograms of milk solids (2012-13) to 15 million kilograms of milk solids over four years.

He said as a result of the additional work carried out for the Environmental Impact Study, the plans demonstrated clear social, environmental and economic benefits for the region.