Farmers protest milk price cuts

By Country News on June 08, 2016
  • Farmers protest milk price cuts

    Chris Blackberry from Girgarre suggested the way forward was for all milk suppliers to unite in a bid to set the selling price of milk.

  • Farmers protest milk price cuts
  • Farmers protest milk price cuts
  • Farmers protest milk price cuts

The milk price crash resulting from the reductions announced by Murray Goulburn Co-operative and Fonterra has brought farmers out in protest.

About 300 farmers rallied in mid-May at Tongala soon after the announcement of the price cuts.

Supermarkets and governments copped much of the blame for the troubled state of the industry in terms of the low price point for milk and the absence of an independent review of the dairy industry.

Dingee dairy farmer and Farmer Power representative Ben Govett chaired the rally and highlighted the absurdity of the retail price of one litre of water being higher than one litre of milk — a product with costly resources put into its creation.

‘‘Supermarkets are ultimately the ones that ruin all this. They brought in $1/litre milk years back and it’s been down ever since,’’ Mr Govett said.

‘‘They have devalued what reproducing has become,’’ he added angrily.

Mr Govett told the crowd they should not accept what was happening to dairy farmers and said without lobbying of the government, change could not occur.

‘‘If we don’t come together with a solution there’s nothing they (governments) can do.

‘‘I want a unified response from the whole industry, Australia-wide.’’

Mr Govett also dismissed Coles’ plan to give 20¢/litre of milk sold back to an independent farmer support fund as ‘‘bulls**t’’.

Farmer Power president Chris Gleeson agreed things had gone downhill since deregulation of the industry and expressed his disappointment in Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, saying he had failed to deliver any change to the dairy industry.

Mr Gleeson outlined what Farmer Power was doing to save the dairy industry, including pushing the government for an independent review of the industry and establishing a support scheme that would see a 50¢/litre levy applied to all milk and deliver 12¢/litre back to farmers.

‘‘(This scheme) will put real dollars back to where they should be, on the land,’’ Mr Gleeson said.

‘‘This nation was built on agriculture and we want to get back to that scenario.’’

With the downturn in milk prices and the loss of farmers across the country, Mr Gleeson said this could represent a $2 billion economic loss to the government, which would have significant knock-on effects for businesses linked to the dairy industry.

Question time was well-mediated, with one farmer asking the panel to work on changing how the dairy industry was represented, saying a farmer union should be considered.

‘‘A union is not going to allow a company to have a claw-back clause that no-one knew about,’’ he said.

By Country News on June 08, 2016

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