“A strong price and a strong vision from La Casa gives us confidence to invest in our business.” – Samantha Martin
Samantha Martin admits she wasn’t overly keen on dairying as she was growing up, despite always having the intention to return to the farm later in life.
However, now in her eighth year back at the family farm east of Myponga on the Fleurieu Peninsula, Samantha is thoroughly enjoying the challenge that comes with dairy farming.
“I didn’t expect to like the dairy business as much as I have,” she said.
The Martin family have been dairy farming for almost 100 years at Myponga. Samantha farms with her parents Craig and Gayle as well as her brother-in-law Rudy Franceschinel, milking 230 Holsteins across 400 hectares.
Between leaving the farm and returning in 2015, Samantha worked in payroll both locally and interstate.
“I always wanted to return to the farm and I wish I came back sooner,” she said.
Since returning, both Samantha and Rudy have started young families. For that reason, striking a sustainable work-life balance has been a major focus for the business.
Previously, the Martins operated a split calving system to ensure they supplied enough milk to their former processor when it was most needed. However, the labour intensity that comes with split calving was impeding on the work-life balance Samantha and Rudy were chasing.
“In order to meet the demands of split calving we had to step up our grazing intensity and irrigation, which required more labour,” Samantha said.
“We know that dairy farming is labour intensive as it is, but we wanted to reduce that intensity where we could and cut back on irrigation.”
For that reason, the Martins made the decision to seek a new processor when their contract ended.
“It was a hard decision, but it was the right decision for our business,” Samantha said.
The Martins were familiar with La Casa Del Formaggio through other dairy farming families in the area who supplied them.
Despite being new suppliers to La Casa in the 2022-23 financial year, Samantha said she had a good feeling about the company since the first phone call with field service officer Ty Maidment.
However, during negotiations, there was one significant event both parties had to navigate.
“I was heavily pregnant with my third child when we started negotiating and gave birth not long after,” Samantha said.
“It was obviously quite a sensitive time, but La Casa weren’t pushy and, in fact, they were very understanding and gave us the space we needed.
“I let them know when we were ready to resume talks and, once we signed the contract, the transition was seamless.
“We spoke to Ty on the phone a couple of times and there were no hiccups, the milk kept flowing and was picked up when it was supposed to be. We had excellent follow-up from procurement manager Wayne Lyons a few weeks later.”
Having supplied large corporate processors in the past, the level of care and communication from La Casa was a breath of fresh air for the Martins.
“When we supplied the larger corporates, our milk would get picked up and it might get swapped or traded and you forgot about it,” Samantha said.
“But with La Casa, we know our milk is going to their factory in Adelaide and will be used to make their high-quality cheeses.
“We really appreciate and value the transparency and honesty of La Casa. The relationship with them is very personal, they are up front with their suppliers about their business and their plans, which makes us excited to be La Casa suppliers.
“A strong price and a strong vision from La Casa give us confidence to invest in our business. The fact they were the first processor to put a floor price in farmer contracts demonstrates the level of care they have always had for their suppliers, and it gives us security.
“We can keep our machinery up to date, we can work towards improving our water quality and our pasture quality and we can invest in important infrastructure such as raceways to make them better and larger, improving cow comfort.”
Samantha knew they were supplying a processor which placed a high value on family when they attended La Casa’s 2022 supplier Christmas party.
“It might seem minor, but having a professional photographer there meant a lot to us,” she said.
“They understand dairy farmers are busy people that don’t get too many opportunities to get off the farm, so having someone there to capture nice family photos in a relaxed setting was really valuable for us.”
To find out more about becoming a La Casa Del Formaggio milk supplier, contact:
Wayne Lyons, 0409 400 490
Ty Maidment, 0413 126 073