Milk price transparency and the future of the dairy industry were the biggest concerns of farmers who attended an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission forum in Shepparton last week.
ACCC Commissioner Mick Keogh said a lot of time was spent on price transparency during the forum on Tuesday night.
‘‘The examples provided were that processors announce a price at the start of the season and many farmers are not getting the price at the end of the season, meaning there is little resemblance between the forecast price and what they are getting paid,’’ he said.
The forum’s other big topic of discussion was farmers’ concerns about the dairy industry’s future — as the mood among the 55 farmers in attendance attested.
‘‘The general mood was quite downbeat and a number expressed real concern about the future in dairy farming,’’ Mr Keogh said.
He said there was real angst about whether dairy farming would be a viable business into the future.
‘‘There was a lot of questions about whether dairy companies had breached competition laws in Australia,’’ he said.
Mr Keogh said the aim of the forums was to understand what farmers’ experiences were with dairy processors.
‘‘The aim of the forums is to get good information about their experiences in business with dairy processors,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s in our interest that good open competition and proper markets are working within the industry.’’
The Shepparton forum was part of a host of forums across Australia which will form part of the ACCC submissions to Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison about competition and fair trading.
‘‘The information from the forums in combination with detailed information from processors and retailers will be analysed and further talks with processors and retailers will be had,’’ Mr Keogh said.
‘‘Recommendations are to be made to government, with a report handed to the treasurer before October this year.’’