Milk price index on its way

By Rodney Woods

A milk price index, which is intended to increase pricing transparency for farmers, will be released in the middle of 2018, according to Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.

Dairy advocacy group Farmer Power raised its concerns about the future of the index after it was promised as part of the Dairy Support Package when the milk price crashed in 2016.

‘‘We need to know what is happening to the promised milk price index that was announced in 2016 as part of the dairy industry rescue package with a $2million budget,’’ group president Chris Gleeson said.

‘‘We know that a contract was awarded last year with a much reduced budget, then the contract was cancelled under terms of non-disclosure, then it was announced that something else would be done by the government in-house, and then nothing.’’

Mr Littleproud said the index was not too far away and explained what it would include.

‘‘A milk price index to help Australian dairy farmers better understand and interpret price signals will be released in mid-2018,’’ he said.

‘‘This will include an index of commodity prices received by Australian dairy processors for cheese, butter, skim milk powder and whole milk powder, updated monthly. Plus a one-year forecast of prices which will be updated quarterly.

‘‘The milk price index is a key element of the Coalition Government’s Dairy Support Package following retrospective price cuts to dairy suppliers by Murray Goulburn and Fonterra.’’

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources said it would continue to update dairy stakeholders on the progress of the index.