Dairy Inquiry given fair market message

By Brian Tessmann, QDO President

After the turmoil of last year’s southern dairy crisis, both state and federal governments committed to conducting investigations into the state of the dairy industry. The purpose of these was quite clear, ensure that the dairy industry doesn’t simply become historical footnote.

One such inquiry is the Senate Economics Reference Committee that recently held a hearings at the Royal on the Park Hotel in Brisbane on Tuesday the 31st of January. Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO) was called as first witnesses for the day after the submission we made earlier this year. At the committee QDO prosecuted the case for Queensland dairy farmers to be given a fair go by highlighting the damage caused to domestic suppliers by $1 per litre milk by Coles in 2011.

When asked if QDO wanted a return to a regulated market, we were very clear that we did not. However we again reiterated our support for rebalancing the current market to deliver free fair markets where farmers had more bargaining power. We drew attention to the fact that in almost every other western economy that retailers often had less control and farmers had more bargaining power.

Dairy Connect, Premium Milk and Norco Co-op each proceeded QDO and took time to answer the Inquiry’s questions. The major theme throughout their sessions was ensuring that the industry and processors continued to deliver upon consumers expectations of high quality local fresh local milk. This for each of these dairy groups meant continuing to deliver and produce local milk for consumers rather than milk trucked hundreds from down south. Senators were also told that for every litre of milk lost in Queensland production meant there was less from down south available for export.

As QDO and the local dairy industry completed yet another inquiry hearing into the sector our hopes turn to seeing some action and results for our farmers, rather than just continued talk. We need to ensure we have a fair market for the sake of our consumers, our farmers and economy.