Independent demands urgent support for the dairy Industry
Since my first meeting with the dairy board in 2006, my
continued lobbying for reforms has fallen on deaf ears.
Up until 1999, our dairy industry was regulated to ensure
farm gate prices were adequate to ensure survival of this important primary production
With the adoption of United Nations directives in or around
the same time, such protections became second place to the international ideal of
free trade and what was inadequately described as a level playing field.
The government did make moves to help overcome the expected losses
of opening up the industry by placing 11 cents per litre levy on the retail price
of milk, to ensure our dairy industry could make it through the transition.
The levy was then shared in an equitable manner with the
industry across the board.
When these protections ended, so did the viability of the dairy
industry, for a variety of reasons, and while our industry was failing other
country’s governments stepped in to support their own, while our government
turned a blind eye.
At the very same time this supporting levy stopped, we faced
a drought; this in turn had a massive affect on the dairy industry, while the
price per litre at the farm gate fell in some case below the price of
production, the cost of production rose.
Feed stock had to be shipped in, and the costs of feeding the
stock rose, and the government appeared to be deaf to the calls for support.
The number of
dairy farms on a national basis has fallen by two-thirds over the last
three decades from 22,300 in 1982 to just below 6,770 in mid-2012,
while the number of consumers has grown at a huge rate, so the protection of
the Industry is long overdue and not the only issue, because huge growth is
Under current conditions, those left in the dairy industry
are surviving, but they are not posting enough profits to ensure their future
viability. What makes this situation a disgrace is that it is all over a few
cents a litre at the farm gate, and every Australian consumer would be more
than happy to ensure the industries survival, so how do we achieve just that?
I am sure the Industry groups may argue that the present
income is ample to ensure survival, but how long will this last, keeping in
mind the massive losses in recent years are not being replaced at the current
The government needs to at least come up with an assistance
package to give immediate financial relief for all dairy farmers. They also need to legislate to re-introduce a
levy to be collected from all domestic milk sales which will be directly
distributed to dairy farmers to increase their viability and decrease the
variability of export price returns.
In SA and indeed on a national basis, approximately 25% of
milk production goes into drinking milk. So for example a 20 cent per litre levy
would return 5 cents/litre across all milk to each farmer. (Other domestic
dairy products could also be included.) It would however need to be paid to
each farmer according to their farm production, no matter which processor they supply.
The government must
step up and ensure not only the survival of the Dairy industry, but to ensure
it is viable for more farms to be opened, and that is not achieved by keeping
their heads in the sand.
Either regulate the
grocery industry to ensure the growth and survival of our entire primary
production industry, or revisit the security of the levy system now! There is
no need for talk fests or further debate it is simply time to act in the best
interests of the nation.
candidate for Wakefield S.A.
82847482 / 0403379500