Federal MP calls for milk levy to save dairy industry

Federal MP calls for milk levy to save dairy industry

A federal MP has threatened to impose regulations on the major supermarkets and milk processors if more isn’t done to help the embattled dairy industry.

Nationals member David Gillespie wants a 10-cents-a-litre levy put in place for the next 12 months to keep the dairy farms running before a more viable supply chain solution is developed.

If no action is taken, Mr Gillespie says he will introduce a private member’s bill to force the levy as well as other measures to increase transparency in the processing and sales of dairy.

A South Australian dairy farmer’s tearful goodbye to her herd of cows has cast the embattled industry back into the spotlight.

A million people have watched Casey Treloar’s Facebook video in which she says the farmgate milk prices have made it impossible for farms like her family’s to stay in business.

“We are getting 38 cents a litre across the year and it’s completely unsustainable. We can’t really afford to keep going anymore,” Ms Treloar said from her farm outside Parawa on the Fleurieu Peninsula.

“It breaks my heart.”

Fighting back tears, Ms Treloar said the supermarkets’ slashing milk to $1-a-litre from 2011 had pushed the industry into a desperate position.

“It has devalued our product, milk that we produce is not worth as much as it once was, and it’s to the point where our production is so much that we cannot sustain producing milk the way we have in the past,” she said.

“The clock has run out and it’s time to say goodbye.”

Dr Gillespie called on the major players in the supply chain to chip in to keep the industry afloat.

“Of the top three supermarket chains, Woolworths has been ahead of Coles and Aldi in terms of implementing measures to address the viability of the dairy supply chain, however, it is imply not enough,” the member for Lyne said.

“There are measures I have been discussing with the Agriculture Minister to fix some of the obvious transparency issues, together with potential measures to improve certainty and greater investment in the dairy industry.

“If we don’t have a supply framework that delivers certainty, then many farmers will continue to leave the industry and we won’t have a dairy industry.”

Last year, a report into the Australian dairy industry said increasing the price of supermarkets’ $1-a-litre milk would have no impact on the price paid to farmers.

“Dairy farmers are understandably frustrated the retail price of milk has declined in real terms, since retailers adopted their milk pricing policies,” ACCC Commissioner Mick Keogh said in a statement.

“The price set by retailers is arbitrary and has no direct relationship to the cost of production for the supply of milk.

“In examining the impact of this on farmgate prices, however, the ACCC found almost all contracts for the supply of private label milk allows processors to pass through movements in farmgate prices to supermarkets.

“Therefore, there is no direct relationship between retail private label milk prices and farmgate prices.”

— Continue the conversation on Twitter @James_P_Hall or james.hall1@news.com.au

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