Massive dairy operation goes into receivership

Dairy farmers Wilma and Aad van Leeuwen. Photo: Supplied
Dairy farmers Wilma and Aad van Leeuwen. Photo: Supplied
Van Leeuwen Dairy Group, the large-scale dairy operation on whose farms Mycoplasma bovis was first detected in New Zealand in 2017, has gone into receivership.

After being contacted by the Otago Daily Times this morning, Auckland-based Calibre Partners released a statement, confirming it was now in full control of the VLG business and assets in South Canterbury.

VLG was founded by Aad and Wilma van Leeuwen and includes the world’s largest robotic dairy barn. In 2017, the van Leeuwens were on NBR's Rich List, valued at $60 million.

The couple arrived in New Zealand from the Netherlands in the early 1990s.

Months after the first detection of M bovis in the Waimate district, it was revealed Southland was believed to be where the disease first took hold.

Last year, the van Leeuwens put nine of their farms on the market, saying they were selling them to ramp up further investment in their high-tech barn farming operations.

One of the receivers, Brendon Gibson, said VLG was a "profitable, well established dairy business that comprises 10 dairy platforms and four support blocks with 8000ha under management, milking approximately 10,000 cows.

"We are working closely with VLG’s management team and staff to continue operations as normal and deliver on a turnaround plan," he said.

No further updates were expected in the near-term, he said. 

The company has been approached for comment.

By Riley Kennedy

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