20 May 2020
While no one in the world does it better, dairy farming in Australia is by no means an easy way to make a living.
Dairy farmers are battlers, in the truest sense.
Not only have they battled through drought, floods and bushfires, for decades now they’ve had to battle to get a fair price for the milk they produce.
Since the deregulation of the dairy industry, farmers have battled against big processors and retailers.
With analysis by The Weekly Times revealing Australia has the lowest per litre price for generic milk in the developed world, what is becoming ¬increasingly clear is that for many dairy farmers they are really battling against the market itself.
Why has such a significant power imbalance between dairy farmers and processors and retailers been allowed to develop?
Australian dairy farmers produce some of the best milk in the world. White gold.
It shouldn’t be this hard to get a fair price for the quality milk they produce.
After seven years since the Liberal-National Coalition Government won power in Canberra, dairy farmers have not seen any meaningful action to support their industry.
Instead, the Government has allowed ideology to blind them to the clear market failure that exists in the dairy industry and have shirked their responsibility to do anything about it.
Just last week, Coalition MPs voted against a motion in the House of Representatives calling for action on dairy pricing, thus deserting dairy farmers again.
Labor believes there are structural problems in the Australian fresh milk market that must be addressed.
We’re dealing with a systemic problem and it will require a systemic solution.
Any intervention will need to be carefully considered and sensitive to the unique conditions of each dairy region and in some cases recognising that not every business is in the same situation, to the unique conditions of each dairy farmer.
We will also need to ensure that milk and everyday dairy products are not priced beyond the reach of Australian families doing their weekly shop.
However, the complexity of the issue is no excuse for ignoring it.
That won’t help anyone.
We should never accept a situation where Australian dairy farmers are paid less for their milk than the price they pay to produce it.
This piece was originally published by The Weekly Times.