Doubts on south-west milk payments

SEVERAL south-west dairy farmers are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars after milk broker National Dairy Products ran into financial difficulty. 

NDP managing director Tony Esposito has admitted the company owes farmers between $1.2 and $1.3 million.

Most of the company’s 25 farmer suppliers have left the company in recent weeks, saying NDP had failed to pay them for milk.

They said their contract stipulated they would be paid on the 17th of each month, but they feared they were unlikely to see the money owed to them.

Among them is Alex Robertson, of Simpson, who said he was owed more than $250,000.

Another creditor is Chris Gleeson, of Crossley, who said he was owed $350,000 by NDP.

Also awaiting payment is Donna Edge, of Carpendeit, who said she was owed $9000.

Mr Esposito said NDP was continuing to trade, but he didn’t give any guarantees payments would be made.

“We are trying to do everything we can – it’s a very difficult situation, trying to have products to sell, to raise money, is not the easiest thing right now,” Mr Esposito said.

Asked whether NDP would make its November payments, Mr Esposito responded by saying: “I can’t say no, and I can’t say yes – we will do everything we can.”

He said the company was not in receivership.

South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon has referred the matter to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).

“Suppliers have complained and it warrants an urgent investigation by ASIC,” Mr Xenophon said.

“Mr Esposito needs to make a full explanation to his suppliers, as soon as possible,” he said. 

Mr Esposito set NDP up last year after the collapse of United Dairy Power. He founded UDP, but sold it to a Hong Kong investor in 2014, before its parent company was placed in receivership.