Against the odds

The dairy farming family fighting back in the face of adversity.

Gino Pacitti

On 1 July 2002, Misty Brae dairy farm owner Gino Pacitti lost a third of his income overnight when the price of raw milk dropped from 36 cents to 24 cents per litre.

The Federal Government had deregulated the dairy industry in an effort to drive competitive market forces and minimise consumer costs.

For the Myponga-based farmer and Diploma of Applied Science (Agriculture) alumnus, it was a significant blow. Drought and increasing input costs meant the last two decades of dairy farming have been a near-constant battle against the odds.

"You have your better years and you have your lame years, but unfortunately for the dairy industry, the better years have been short-lived," explained Gino.

In 2011, these hard times reached a new recession when “the power of the supermarket” reared its head, offering milk to consumers for just $1 per litre.

Gino Pacitti

“It did us no favours whatsoever, it completely devalued our product.”

The impact was so significant it led the lifelong dairy farmer and his wife Mandy to consider “bailing out of the dairy industry” in 2012.

“The prices we were receiving were abysmal, input costs were getting exorbitant and there were no profit margins.”

“You have your better years and you have your lame years, but unfortunately for the dairy industry, the better years have been short-lived.”Gino Pacitti

But, perhaps surprisingly given their formative years were shaped by such a volatile industry, Gino’s then-teenage sons persuaded their parents to push on in the face of adversity.

“Their argument was that they could see dairy farming could be a career pathway that they were interested in and wished to pursue.”

During his childhood and adolescence, Gino was “part of the labour force”, milking cows before school and inadvertently cutting his teeth in the dairy industry.

It was in 1978 that the then 18-year-old Gino departed the Myponga farm for the first time to head up north to Roseworthy for a tertiary education.

More than 40 years later, Gino still calls on the knowledge accrued during his time at university.

“Like a lot of educational experiences, you often don’t understand or don’t realise the impact it has on you until later life.”

Gino Pacitti

This spirit of education has continued well beyond Gino’s university years.

Where others may understandably waiver in the face of continued tribulations, he instead chose to alter the industry’s fate through education.

Aiming to teach consumers about the quality, health and economic benefits of buying locally branded products, Gino and Mandy in 2016 were integral in forming the Do Dairy campaign.

Do Dairy encourages consumers to purchase dairy products that are sourced and processed in South Australia.
 

“We’ve made it a personal challenge of ours to try and educate as many non-farming people as we can,” said Gino.

Story by Michaela McGrath
Photos by Meaghan Coles

Tagged in lumen summer 2020, lumen