Farmer Power take concerns directly to the top as minister prepares to visit

STATE Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh will meet with newly-formed lobby group Farmer Power to hear concerns about the dairy industry crisis first-hand.

Delegates have been invited to talk to the minister at Terang’s DemoDAIRY on Wednesday, January 30, and outline their issues and short, medium and long-term actions. Member for South West Coast Denis Napthine organised the gathering after hearing the plight of farmers at the 600-strong gathering in Noorat last week.

Dr Napthine said he had also spoken to some “prominent dairy farmers I well respect” in the weeks before who outlined the significant financial challenges that they and other farmers were facing.

“The meeting was very important for alerting the state and federal governments and the broader community of the extent of the problem,” Dr Napthine said.

“It was a bit of a wake-up call for us all that we are facing a serious situation, particularly for young farmers who are highly geared and those who have expanded in recent years.”

“That, on top of high debt levels, is a recipe for disaster.”

He said while there were external factors that could not be controlled, such as the high Australian dollar and seasonal conditions, “we can’t just sit back and twiddle our thumbs”.

Dr Napthine said other farming industries including beef and prime lambs were also facing a significant drop in their returns.

“Dairy farmers are not Robinson Crusoes. The whole of agriculture is facing some difficult times and it’s important that state and federal governments are aware of that.”

“It is a real problem. I’ve spoken directly to the Premier. We’re taking this seriously and we’re here to listen.”

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