Queensland milk price puzzle

By Brian Tessmann, QDO President

The outcomes from farm gate milk price negotiations between milk processors and farmers in Queensland has ranged from puzzling to perplexing.

While Norco has managed tohold its milk price paid to farmers, Dairy Farmers Milk Co-operative (DFMC) members who supply Lion in southern Queensland are looking at around a half a cent per litre drop in farm gate price. Lion suppliers in North Queensland are also likely hold their price, however they may end up paying the freight on the majority of excess milk that might need to be transported south to find a market. 

This could be around 25 cents per litre if spread across all northern Queensland milk potentially exceeding a one cent per litre cost depending on the amount of excess milk.

The Parmalat farm gate price for the current calendar year however remains a mystery even after the six months since the contracts were due to be renewed. During this six months the price farmers have been paid has been down three cents per litre as no current resultant bonus payment mechanisms are in place.

The twists and turns of the wrangling between Parmalat and the collective bargaining group Premium Milk over the past 12 months has left many farmers feeling financially insecure with many of their futures left in the dark. 

With no clear idea as to when farmers will see some of that three cents per litre returned to them, the financial and emotional stakes are high.

WhileQDO is required legally to not be involved directly with these price negotiations, it is always ready and willing to provide advice or information to farmer collective groups undertaking these negotiations and has done so on many occasions.

It is disappointing that some milk processors have used these price negotiations as opportunities to improve their margins at the expense of Queensland dairy farmers who as is often the case, are in a weak bargaining position.