Dairy farmers urged to use new mandatory code.

Filed under Agriculture, Letters & Opinion, News ~ by Press on  12 May 2020

NSW Farmers urges dairy farmers to use the mandatory dairy code of conduct as processors prepare to announce new milk prices.

The upcoming season will be the first time processors must disclose the minimum farmgate milk price, after the mandatory code created new rules for farmers and processors in January this year.

NSW Farmers Dairy Committee chair Colin Thompson says the code was developed to create greater equity between farmers and processors, so it is incumbent on farmers to know their rights and obligations under the code before arrangements are made with processors for the year ahead.

We fought hard for the code and for it to become mandated, and we also fought to ensure it delivers meaningful change for farmers. Farmers need to familiarise themselves with the code so they are doing everything within their power to ensure they’re receiving a fair deal,” said Mr Thompson.

The code is important as it restricts unilateral decision making by processors, which in the past has created uncertainty for farmers.”

The requirement that processors publish all supply agreements on their websites will also create accountability for processors in honouring their agreements with farmers.”

Mr Thompson says that a farmgate price drop at the moment would be devastating for dairy farmers, despite decent rainfall in parts of the state. 

We hope that the new milk price agreements recognise the challenges dairy farmers have faced over recent years, like protracted periods of low rainfall and heavily discounted retail prices on dairy products.”

Dairy farmers have also lost the ability to negotiate with processors face to face due to coronavirus related restrictions, so hopefully we haven’t been disadvantaged in the lead up to the new season.”

The drought has not broken, and it will take a long time for farmers to recover. A price drop at the moment would be a serious impediment to moving forward.”

United Workers Union supports Dairy Levy for industry in crisis

The union representing dairy process workers throughout Australia, the United Workers Union, supports the call for a levy on milk at supermarkets to ensure farmers and workers are paid a living wage and to enable a sustainable industry.

In the recent fires 15,000,000 out of the 45,000,000 acres of prime dairy farming land has been burnt out. Over 5,000 head of cattle were lost in these fires and long term multi generation farmers are leaving.

Dairy farmers have demanded Coles, Woolworths and Aldi supermarkets add up to a 40 cent per litre levy on milk to help them after battling through drought, fires and the coronavirus pandemic.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud is urging supermarkets to voluntarily extend and review the current 10 cents temporary levy on fresh milk to other milk products.

United Workers Union Food and Beverage National Director Susie Allison:

We have consistently called for a fair price on dairy. Asking supermarkets for voluntary levies is not enough; milk must be sold at a fair price at each point in the supply chain.

Last year we made a submission to the Australian Dairy Plan including the recommendation for a federally controlled functioning price for milk, tied to a minimum consumer price.

We have seen over the last few years that leaving the price for milk in the hands of the supermarkets and   processors has led to an unstable and often unstainable operating environment for dairy farmers.

The Federal Government needs to establish an independent body with representatives from farmers, processors and workers to ensure a fair price for milk across the supply chain.”

Shaun Davies, dairy process worker and United Workers Union delegate:

Dairy process workers play an important role in regional communities – we belong to sports and recreational clubs, our children go to the local schools, and we contribute to the economy.

I support a levy on dairy. The industry has been through recent droughts, fires and now a pandemic, we need the government to step up and ensure this levy happens.

The levy will ensure that farmers receive the full amount of the increase, which will offset years of rising production costs.

Profitable farms are critical for the sustainability of our industry and our regional communities.

Often dairy processing jobs will be the best jobs available in a region and many regional communities depend on these jobs. Let’s keep it that way.”

United Workers Union’s wider recommendation for the Australian dairy industry:

– For a viable dairy industry milk must be sold at each point in the supply chain at a fair price. Processors and the supermarkets have a responsibility to ensure this happens.

– State and federal governments and the processors need to invest in our industry to ensure it is still here in 20 years. We need funding for research and development to ensure new and more efficient ways to get more from less in farming and manufacturing.

– We need to future proof our dairy manufacturing sites by moving to using only renewable energy sources with the help of government subsidies.

– Workers must have a voice in any legitimate Australian Dairy Plan and workers need to be a priority area.

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