Queensland dairy farmers petition grows legs

AFTER the Queensland Dairy Farmers Organisation launched a petition to harness people power and introduce a 10c increase on milk products, people have started to take notice.

Agriculture minister David Littleproud said he supported the venture.

“If retailers get to a point where they support a ten cent levy on each litre of milk to go directly to farmers, I am happy to try and help to facilitate it as a temporary measure while structural reform happens in the industry,” he said.

“We all know many of our farmers are really struggling right now. The dairy sector in particular is having a tough time.

“Many of our farmers are being paid less than the cost of production. This is unsustainable. If our farmers don't make it through the tough times, they won't be there to supply Australia milk in the future.

“The fact is $1 milk has devalued the milk category in the eyes of consumers by making it cheaper than water.”

Mr Littleproud said he had met with the two big supermarkets. 

“Woolworths has shown leadership on this issue,” he said. 

“They say they’re on board so long as other retailers are too.

“Coles is more reluctant but I hope they'll come on board. I intend to speak to ALDI and IGA/Metcash as well.

“Consumers have huge power here. All those who are outraged on social media would do more for Aussie farmers by paying a ten cent levy than they do by sharing a video on Facebook.”

Parmalat Supply Chain general manager, Vince Houlihan today advised the QDO that Parmalat also supported the drought levy and guaranteed that they would pass on the full amount back to its farmers. 

Darling Downs dairy farmer and Parmalat supplier, Brenden Hayden said he was pleased with the announcement.

“It's fantastic news and about time,” he said.

“If they're willing to do it, it'll go a long way to help pay some long overdue bills That's going to put pressure on the others to make a move."

Parmalat said the increasing scarcity of grain and hay and the price of freighting in fodder due to the ongoing drought had hit the already struggling dairy industry and regardless of whether dairy farms were in drought declared regions, the levy would provide relief to all.

Federal MP Bob Katter also threw his weight behind the initiative today and described the 10c levy as just the beginning.

“Declare that stage one - stage one we go to 10 cents a litre at the farm gate,” he said.

“There also needs to be a return to orderly marketing by the re-creation of marketing boards providing a legal property right called a milk quota which can be bought and sold within delineated geographic areas.

“And for this fresh milk, the marketing board establishes a price to be paid to the milk producer and the ownership of that fresh milk quota be confined to Australian citizens.”

Mr Katter said he had seen the struggles of dairy farmers first hand.

“On one tour, at the seven dairies that I visited there were no employees because each dairy was run by a husband and wife team - they got up and started milking at 5 o’clock in the morning and finished milking at 7 o’clock at night,” he said.

“They would be the hardest working people because they’ve got to do that every single day. 

“The week the dairy deregulation was introduced in Queensland, the price to the farmer plummeted from 59 cents per litre to 41 cents per litre.”

Mr Katter said he was completely bamboozled by supply chain that sees milk travel halfway across the country rather than stay in the local area.

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