By Brian Tessmann, QDO President
The Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation and Australian Dairy Farmers ran two very successful forums last week in which farmers clearly made their feelings known on a range of issues vital to their industry’s future. Between the two forums in Warwick and at Maleny Dairies over 100 dairy farmers and industry attended and participated.
Problems in the domestic milk market stemming from the supermarket milk price wars and $1 per litre milk were high on the agenda along with the potential flow on affects from Murray Goulburn financial troubles. Speakers on the day made it clear that while Queensland cannot expect to be totally insulated from these problems in Victoria, but as in the past Queensland continues to operate under a different set of market factors.
Queensland has suffered since $1 milk price war began in 2011 and has had margins cut while dairy farmers in southern Australia continued to enjoy higher than average prices. This has led to Queensland now being short of milk and importing 30% of local consumption from southern states. Farmers have left the industry in droves and while this has slowed a little, any suggestion of a price drop would see more farmers exit and local production fall away further. Farmers also vented their anger on what they saw as a cynical and hypocritical move by Coles to introduce a new store brand in Victoria on the premise of a portion of returns going to Murray Goulburn farmers. This is clearly just a move that would only take more sales away from branded dairy products.
The other issue high on the list of concerns was Queensland’s Biosecurity proposed changes to Tick and Bovine Johns Disease regulations. Farmers were aghast that it is just six weeks away from the proposed regulations commencement there is still no detail on whether the Palaszczuk government is going to cut the states dairy farmers adrift and throw out our protections from BJD. QDO will not sit by see all the years dairy farmers have maintained a very low prevalence of the disease in QLD simply wasted.