Dollar milk high on agenda
Focus on ACCC dairy inquiry at QDO forum
THERE was a little cautious optimism in the air as farmers from across the state met in Toowoomba for the Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation forum.
About 100 farmers gathered at City Golf Club for the forum, which was followed up by the QDO annual general meeting.
ACCC Agricultural Commissioner Mick Keogh was a man in high demand at the event, with farmers keen to hear more about progress on the dairy inquiry.
QDO president Brian Tessmann said while any firm results were yet to be finalised, farmers were keen to know if their feedback last year had been taken on board.
“What today is about is informing farmers of where the inquiry is up to and what changes are in the wind,” Mr Tessmann said.
He said there was plenty of change needed from the farm gate to retail, but farmers needed to see some action. “The ACCC are the ones with
Of course the number one concern is dollar a litre milk.
— QDO president Brian Tessmann
the power,” he said.
“Mick probably can’t tell us exactly what’s in the report, but farmers want to know whatever he can give them.
“He was here many months ago and took information right from the grass roots.
“Of course the number one concern is dollar a litre milk.
“They’ve been struggling with that since Australia Day 2011 and that has restricted the whole dairy industry.”
Mr Keogh said there was plenty of progress to report on despite the challenges of conducting an inquiry into such a fast-changing landscape.
“Where we’re up to is still in the detailed analysis stage, so we can’t talk about results yet,” he said.
“But what we’re trying to make sure people understand is we’re looking at competition from the cow right through to the retail consumer and looking at margins that apply at each step and how that has changed over time.
“The impact of dollar milk is also a feature and another issue is contracts between retailers and processors and between dairy processors and farmers and where risk is allocated.”
He said it was important to understand where financial risk fell in the case of a bad season or a drop in dairy prices.
It went much further than dollar milk, with value-added products like cheese and flavoured milk under scrutiny as well.
He said farmers were also keen to hear more about the impacts of imported products on the Australian market.
He said even events like the downing of Malaysia Airlines’ MH-17 could have an impact.
“Everything is linked in the world and the impact of that incident was that economic sanctions were placed on Russia, which retaliated by stopping imports from the European Union,” Mr Keogh said.
“Asia became their focus and that can impact on us.”
EXPERT PANEL: Speaking at the Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation forum are (from left) Norman Repacholi of Dairy Australia, Australian Dairy Farmers CEO David Inall and ACCC Agricultural Commissioner Mick Keogh. PHOTO: MEGAN MASTERS