Small Farms

COVID-19 compounds dairy woes

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QDO welcomes Littleproud’s push for retail levy on all dairy products.

COVID-19 has played havoc with all business. But the major issues that confront the Australian dairy industry have not ceased to exist as a result of the pandemic.

So, it is welcome to hear Federal Agricultural Minister David Littleproud calling on Australian supermarkets to give farmers a fair go and apply a retail levy on all dairy products for the foreseeable future.

In March 2019, the price of discount milk in supermarkets was raised from $1/litre and now sits around $1.20-$1.29/litre. Minister Littleproud has asked supermarkets to increase the per litre cost to $1.50 and to pass that increase directly back to the farmers. Minister Littleproud’s proposal asks supermarkets to apply a levy applied to all dairy products, all dairy brands and all pack sizes.

The Corona virus has caused havoc on both Australian and international dairy markets and, as the weeks under lockdown continue and the world’s economies edge closer to recession, there are fears that prices paid to farmers could reduce by 20 per cent as a result. This levy would provide stability at a very uncertain time.

In addition, QDO President Brian Tessmann said, “The drought that has taunted our farmers since 2017 has not broken. The short period of rain had in February this year (2020) has allowed farmers to plant and harvest some of their crops, but the rain was not enough to revoke any of Queensland and New South Wales’ drought declarations. We still need intervention and we still need help.”

Retail support for a dairy levy is yet to be determined. The federal government will need to work with retailers who are committed to support the future of the dairy industry as well as with the dairy processors (large and small alike).

“One thing the Corona pandemic has made abundantly clear is the importance of food security and biosecurity to our island nation. We are extremely lucky that we can more than comfortably survive on what we produce at the moment. However, without assistance from consumers, retailers and the government, our dairy industry still faces an uncertain future as more farmers exit due to lack of profitability.

If Australian consumers want our dairy industry to have a future, they have to be prepared to be part of the solution. If the supermarkets are prepared to back this levy then it will go a long way to giving us a chance” said Brian Tessmann.

Source: QDO

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