Time for Ethical Milk

By Brian Tessmann, QDO President

This week the Queensland Government and our state parliamentarians were presented with a tangible and practical method of delivering fairness to Queensland dairy farmers. At time of writing QDO was preparing to assist KAP member Shane Knuth to present the Sustainable Queensland Dairy Production Milk Mark Logo’s Bill to the state Parliamentary Committee.

This Bill outlines the rationale and intent behind the proposed logo or ‘fair milk mark’ that consumers use and rely on to distinguish Queensland milk that is produced at an ‘ethical’ price compared to other unsustainable milk. The intention is to empower consumers at the checkout to choose milk that supports Queensland dairy farmers.

The concept is not radical or new with similar logos for sustainably existing on coffee and chocolate with the direct aim to ensure overseas producers have not been exploited in the production process. If this concept works for supporting ethical returns to overseas farmers then surely its time as consumers we had the choice to make the same choices that deliver returns through the supply chain for Australian farmers as well.

This is not a new concept for the Australian dairy industry. Our national representative body Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) was working with some larger domestic focused milk processors to get a similar label scheme developed in 2012. Unfortunately, the processors involved withdrew from the scheme after perceived pressure from other sectors of the industry or supply chain.

Consumers are continually asking what milk they should buy to support our local dairy farmers and while QDO encourages them to buy branded milk, most want a stronger and clearer indication right there on the bottle. Clearly this is an issue that requires government action with consumers calling for it and farmers united behind a scheme to deliver it, but lack the power and resources to make it a reality. The time has come for state government to support a fair and suitable future for Queensland dairy farmers.