Farmers urged to use dairy code in new-season supply agreements

By Rodney Woods

NSW Farmers Association is urging dairy farmers to utilise the mandatory dairy code of conduct as processors gear up to announce new milk prices.

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

NSW Farmers Dairy Committee chair Colin Thompson said the code was developed to create greater equity between farmers and processors, so it was 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,” Mr Thompson said.

“Farmers need to familiarise themselves with the code so they are doing everything within their power to ensure they’re receiving a fair deal.

“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 said a farm gate price drop at the moment would be devastating for dairy farmers, despite decent rainfall in parts of NSW.

“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,” he said.

“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.”