Dairy in­dus­try in cri­sis

Farm­ers fear the worst

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE - Tobi Loftus Tobi.Loftus@cnbtimes.com.au

NORTH Bur­nett dairy farm­ers have said the milk cri­sis is con­tin­u­ing to get worse in Queens­land.

Biggen­den dairy farmer Rob­bie Radel said it was be­yond frus­trat­ing that milk pro­ces­sors wanted to pay producers less.

“The in­dus­try could be fixed with the flick of a pen, like it was de­stroyed with a flick of a pen,” Mr Radel said.

“The pow­ers that be, the big com­pa­nies, not just Coles andWool­worths, but the milk pro­ces­sors need to take re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“They have to own up and say they aren’t go­ing to sup­ply the milk that cheap any more.”

Mr Radel said sup­pli­ers should raise the amount they sell milk for to su­per­mar­ket chains.

“If Coles andWooolies want to sell milk at $1/litre that’s up to them and they can lose rev­enue,” he said.

“But to sell it at $1/litre and make money off it and then the sup­plier makes money and the farm­ers don’t, it’s not funny.

“If they made it $1.10/litre and 10c goes to farm­ers, you could live with it, it makes a huge dif­fer­ence to us.

“They wouldn’t be pay­ing it, the con­sumer would be.

“I don’t know any­one who couldn’t af­ford 10c/litre ex­tra.”

Mr Radel said while national me­dia at­ten­tion around the milk cri­sis has helped Vic­to­rian dairy farm­ers, it had lit­tle impact on Queens­land farm­ers.

“The in­dus­try is ab­so­lutely in dire straits now as when it be­gan down in Vic­to­ria,” he said.

“Milk com­pa­nies down there have re­lented a lit­tle, risen their open­ing price for the sea­son, up here they are still talk­ing about drop­ping our price.”

He said he had heard one com­pany was think­ing about drop­ping prices for farm­ers by as much as 2c/litre.

“I would think if they dropped it by 2c/litre, 25% of the in­dus­try will leave im­me­di­ately and an­other 25% would be gone in the next 12 months,” he said.

“The in­dus­try in Queens­land could halve if they drop the price by any amount.

“Peo­ple aren’t able to pay bills now; it will just eat into their al­ready re­duced div­i­dends.”

Mr Radel said he did not know what he would do if prices dropped.

“I’m on the lo­cal coun­cil now, that’s an av­enue I can pur­sue, but it’s not a full time job and not enough to sup­port the mort­gage.

“If we were forced out we’d have to sell the farm and the cows and start fresh with some­thing dif­fer­ent.”

I don’t know any­one who couldn’t af­ford 10c/litre ex­tra. — Rob­bie Radel

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

FRUS­TRATED FARMER: Rob­bie Radel is sick and tired of the dairy cri­sis that has now been go­ing on for sev­eral months.

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