ACCC in­quiry into dairy in­dus­try too late for some

North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - NEWS - By SHANE DOUTHIE

NOT ev­ery­one is con­vinced the up­com­ing Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion (ACCC) in­quiry into the na­tional dairy in­dus­try will help dairy farm­ers cur­rently fac­ing ruin fol­low­ing the col­lapse of the far­m­gate milk price.

The in­quiry was an­nounced by Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture and Wa­ter Re­sources Barn­aby Joyce at a re­cent Dairy Sym­po­sium in Mel­bourne and will look at the shar­ing of risk along the sup­ply chain, sup­ply agree­ments and con­tracts, com­pe­ti­tion, bar­gain­ing and trade prac­tices in the in­dus­try and the ef­fect of world and re­tail prices on prof­itabil­ity.

Lo­cal share farmer Jody Boyd, who milks about 250 cows a day at a dairy be­tween Wan­garatta and Ox­ley, sup­ply­ing Mur­ray Goul­burn, said the sup­port of­fered to dairy farm­ers was “pa­thetic”.

“I think it’s way too late for some peo­ple…a lot shut down within a cou­ple of weeks and al­though you have to think some of them were prob­a­bly close to shut­ting down any­way, many didn’t have any choice,” he said.

“Barn­aby Joyce should have done some­thing straight away, in­stead of wait­ing a cou­ple of months.

“He might as well have stayed at home.

“You imag­ine hav­ing your pay cut in half, and then still hav­ing to turn up and do the same amount of work ev­ery day,” Mr Boyd said.

He added that he was for­tu­nate be­cause his costs were rel­a­tively low as he was a share farmer and he did not have the big in­put costs, but it was still go­ing to be tough. “We will stay in dairy. “I’ve put 20 years of breed­ing in our cows, so I won’t be sell­ing.

“It’s the younger ones who have al­ready lost so much that I feel sorry for…it is just so cruel,” Mr Boyd said.

He said he knew of dairy farm­ers who had tried to ac­cess some of the sup­port pack­ages rolled out by the gov­ern­ment, but they had been frus­trated by the pro­cess and the time to get a re­sult.

“It’s just all the rig­ma­role you have to go through…the amount of forms you have to fill out is ridicu­lous.

“We’re luck­ier here in the North East, we have pretty re­li­able low cost wa­ter and feed is a rea­son­able cost, but the guys in the Goul­burn Val­ley are do­ing it tough.”

Mr Boyd said he be­lieved Mur­ray Goul­burn (MG) di­rec­tors should be ac­count­able for their mis­takes but the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion had to be taken in a wider con­text.

“MG is still one of the safest dairy com­pa­nies due to a lot of ini­tia­tives that the board in­tro­duced over the years,” he said.

“We could have been in a worse po­si­tion.”

He said he be­lieved that su­per­mar­kets held a large pro­por­tion of the blame in the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, af­fect­ing not only dairy, but other pri­mary pro­duc­ers. “They are just too ruth­less. “At the end of the day if you take ad­van­tage of one group (dairy farm­ers) to of­fer cheap prices ($1 milk for ex­am­ple) to an­other group, it’s just plain wrong.”

Mr Boyd said MG was no longer a true co-op­er­a­tive with the com­pany now hav­ing to re­port first to the mar­ket rather than its farm­ers.

“In the old days we would have a con­ver­sa­tion over the fence and un­der­stand what was go­ing on,” he said.

“Now it’s all hush-hush.”

DAIRY HELP TOO SLOW: Lo­cal dairy farmer Jody Boyd is not overly im­pressed with the re­sponse by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to the dairy cri­sis PHOTO: Jeff Zeuschner

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