Milk boycott threatened
DAIRY farmers around the country are threatening to defy the law by withholding their product during a series of rolling no-milk weeks.
Such a boycott has been ruled illegal, but farmers are so angry that they may hold back supplies anyway.
‘‘ We will see what the Senate inquiry ( looking into the Coles Woolworths milk price war) comes up with,’’ said L y n O ‘ C o n n o r , d e p u t y chairwoman of the Northern D i s t r i c t C o u n c i l o f t h e Queensland Dairy Farmers‘ Organisation.
‘‘ If farmers maintain the rage and concern that is there at the moment, something will happen.’’
Mrs O‘ Connor, who runs 230 head at Ravenshoe with her husband Des, said the topic h a d b e e n d i s c u s s e d nationally, the first time in a hundred years that the dairy industry had been so united.
However, they had received legal advice that an organised boycott of supplies would be against the law.
Mrs O’Connor said that such a move would focus attention in the big cities on the plight of dairy farmers, if consumers had to have UHT milk for their tea or cornflakes.
‘‘ Bleating farmers,’’ might cut little ice with shoppers, but this would give them ‘‘ a
she glimpse said.
‘‘ If they keep pushing us down, there will be no fresh milk industry here and this is what it will be like – consumers will have to have UHT milk.’’
She agreed with Sustainable Malanda‘ s Peter Ackford who said Coles was seeking to impose their price on suppliers, and milk was just the beginning or the ‘‘ canary in the coalmine’,’’ as he put it.
Coles’ campaign, which Mrs O‘ Connor labelled ‘‘ an attack on Australian agriculture’’ was across hundreds of items from milk and bread through to beef and eggs.
She s a i d s o me f a r mers would struggle on until bankruptcy while others would find it all simply too much to deal with.
‘‘ We have got away with deregulation with no suicides in this industry but now we are sitting on the edge of a very nasty situation with farmers’ attitudes,’’ she said.
T a b l e l a n d s C r R h o n d a Sorensen, who worked for 13 years as laboratory manager at Malanda Dairy Foods said that farmers felt they had no identity left once they sent their cows to the meatworks for slaughter.
Farmers’ loss of income of more than 20 per cent had downstream effects with less money and fewer jobs available in the region.