Inquiry result welcomed

By Country News

The NSW Farmers Association has welcomed the finding that $1/litre milk is driving the NSW dairy industry to breaking point.

The NSW parliamentary inquiry into the sustainability of the dairy industry in NSW found that $1/litre milk had removed considerable value from the supply chain which had added to the financial pressure on dairy farmers.

‘‘Dairy farmers have long known the negative impact that $1 per litre milk has had on our businesses, and this has now been officially recognised,’’ NSW Farmers’ dairy chair Erika Chesworth said.

‘‘This finding is vindication for all dairy farmers that had their concerns dismissed by the ACCC inquiry,’’ she said.

‘‘Farmers have seen the value of their product diminished through retailer discounting, with the retail price remaining unchanged since 2011 despite major increases in farm costs.

‘‘For the dairy industry to be sustainable, we need farmers to be paid a fair milk price to build resilient businesses that can survive through periods of drought and other hardships.’’

The report also recommends the NSW Government immediately establish and fund an independent NSW Commissioner for Dairy.

NSW Farmers has been advocating for the implementation of a commissioner for agriculture to provide independent support for farmers and to engage with retailers or processors on behalf of farmers.

‘‘This is the second upper house inquiry to recommend an independent commissioner this year and it is time for the NSW Government to act,’’ Ms Chesworth said.

‘‘The commission is a clear solution for the government to assist in rebalancing the market power that farmers deal with.

‘‘The commissioner should be across agriculture to ensure that competition issues are addressed prior to industries reaching breaking point, but the initial focus must be to action the issues identified in this inquiry.

‘‘We thank the committee for listening to dairy farmers and acknowledging the detrimental impact that retailers’ actions and the power imbalance between industry participants has on farmers.’’

—Zoe McMaugh