By Brian Tessmann, QDO President
The Fair Milk Bill that was tabled in state Parliament last week by the Katter Australia Party’s Shane Knuth, provides an opportunity to help deliver both better product information to consumers and a more sustainable dairy industry in this state. The Bill sets out to provide milk processors a consistent label that can be used to identify milk products that are sourced from local dairy farmers at a sustainable price. It was disappointing in 2013 when a similar bill was voted down by the two major parties despite strong farm sector support.
The bill allows for a logo to be created to signify that the milk is local from one of three prescribed Queensland milk producing regions. Importantly it will also signify that the Queensland dairy farmer who produced the milk has been paid a recognised sustainable price. The state minister will draw on information from departmental and other independent sources including Queensland Dairy Accounting Scheme (QDAS), dairy farmers and dairy representative organisations twice yearly to establish what the sustainable price should be.
Of course this will be a completely voluntary opt in process for any milk processors to consider whether their brand would benefit from identifying their milk as sustainably sourced.
The fair milk logo scheme is built upon the concept that as a general rule consumers wish to support the local dairy farmers. The recent and very public ‘I Buy Branded’ campaign, which encouraged consumers to shift from $1 milk to processor brands, was a clear manifestation of this support. During the campaign there has been some confusion over what ‘branded milk’ was, the Fair Milk Logo would solve this.
The future of the Bill now solely rests with the major parties. It is time for Labor and Liberal National Party to both put politics aside to support the Queensland dairy industry by empowering consumers.