Activist group Farmer Power will today stage a protest over a proposal by a consortium to implement vertical integration into the south-west dairy industry.
Farmer Power will rally at a farmers’ forum in Colac to be addressed by federal trade minister Andrew Robb.
Vertical integration is when a company has control over its supply, production and distribution chain.
Farmer Power Warrnambool spokesman Steven Garner said it was fearful of vertical integration because it could reduce competition in the marketplace.
The consortium, which includes Tasmania-based private investment firm Linear Capital and has links to Chinese investors, is pursuing proposals to buy dozens of south-west dairy farms to supply processing plants it wants to establish in the region.
It hopes to export infant formula to China.
Mr Garner said Farmer Power was not against foreign investment but opposed one business controlling the whole production and distribution system.
“It’s nothing to do with who is buying,” he said of the group’s protest.
“We are concerned about what they are buying.”
He said Farmer Power was also concerned about the lack of transparency for the consortium’s proposal to use the vacant Glenormiston College to train Chinese and local workers in the dairy industry.
Mr Robb is to update farmers at today’s forum about Australia’s negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with China.
Federal member for Corangamite, Sarah Henderson, who is co-hosting the forum, said a FTA with China had the potential to be “a real shot in the arm for our local dairy industry”.
The forum will be held from 11.30am at Craiglands, 585 Princes Highway, Larpent, on the western outskirts of Colac.