Milk boy­cott threat­ened

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - by Tony Stick­ley

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

of

the

fu­ture,’’

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.

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