By Ross McInnes, QDO Vice-President
All roads lead to Melbourne for dairy leaders attending Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s Symposium next week. Given Mr Joyce’s statements around the $1 per litre milk price during the election campaign, the event promises to have a very attentive audience. During the campaign Mr. Joyce stated that it was in fact ‘the dairy farmer’ paying for the supermarket’s ‘advertising gimmick’. He also confirmed that the Coalition had allocated $2million for a milk price index. Each of these were referred to as matters to be resolved after the election.
Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO) and Australian Dairy Farmers’ (ADF) both have called for the implementation of the ‘effects test’ and intend using the Symposium to hold our pollies to account on their promise to implement the changes.
It doesn’t matter whether it is unsustainably priced milk or cheese, the detrimental effects back onto farms is obvious to everyone except retail executives and pollies who are beholding to big business.
The recent announcement by Coles of a “farmers’ fund” milk is the latest example of their ‘Public Relations’ department in overdrive. Coles has been quoted paying 15cents per litre less than 2 years ago for their 100million litres Victorian home brand milk contract.
The $2.5 million expected to be raised by the ‘public relations milk’ will be paid out of the annual $15 million increase in profits honeypot. It is this kind of creative accounting by retail executives that is delivering a lot of taking and bugger all giving.
The low world price means there are limited solutions for many southern dairies, but having domestic retail contracts tied to volatile pricing simply ensures the rollercoaster ride will continue.
The Dairy Symposium is an opportunity for the Deputy Prime Minister and the Coalition to deliver on their election commitment to fix the unsustainably low $1 per litre milk price. Perhaps removing the circumstances that give retailers the upper hand with rise and fall clauses may be a good place to start. QDO look forward to working constructively with the government towards an outcome that benefits our members.