Dairy industry in crisis, south-west MPs told 

*The Standard will be live tweeting from the Noorat dairy industry crisis meeting on Monday from 7.30pm.

DAIRY farming is facing a crisis and politicians need to understand the implications.

That’s the thrust of a meeting to be held at Noorat on Monday night.

Co-organiser Phil Bond, of Ecklin, said member for Wannon Dan Tehan and member for South West Coast Denis Napthine would attend the meeting at which farmers would attempt to convey the seriousness of their problems.

“Farmers are struggling to make a living and if things keep going the way they are there soon won’t be a viable dairy industry,” Mr Bond said. “It’s hard for young farmers to get into the industry and not much incentive for them to do so with the low incomes.

“There wouldn’t be a farm between Colac and Mount Gambier that’s not struggling.”

Mr Bond, a former sharefarmer of the year in the Great South West Dairy Awards, who has since bought the property he was sharefarming, said low milk prices, rising input costs and increased power bills were among the issues affecting dairy farmers.

“The industry is at crisis point and needs some government action to improve the situation.”

The open meeting will be held at Noorat Recreation Reserve at 7.30pm and all dairy farmers from the region are encouraged to attend. The same two politicians faced a closed forum in Warrnambool two months ago at which invited dairy farmers and industry financiers aired similar concerns.

The issue of low milk prices became even more timely this week with Coles announcing the expansion of its dollar-a-litre house-brand milk campaign to its Express stores — a move United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) president Kerry Callow said showed a blatant disregard for the livelihoods of farming families across Victoria.

“Milk prices paid to farmers do not cover the cost of producing that milk,” Mrs Callow said.

“The effect is that Victorian dairy farmers are currently subsidising the cost of milk paid by consumers. Farmers are sick of being underpaid for their milk. They cannot afford to produce these volumes of milk at these prices. 

“At the current prices simple economics dictates that one way a farmer can limit losses is to produce less milk.”

The dairy industry has called for the federal government to create a supermarket code of conduct and appoint an ombudsman to address the impact of supermarkets’ pricing decisions.

“Consumers can also play their part in supporting dairy farming families by purchasing the established milk brands and not buying the $1-a-litre milk,” Mrs Callow said

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