Dol­lar milk high on agenda

Fo­cus on ACCC dairy in­quiry at QDO fo­rum

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - News - ME­GAN MASTERS me­gan.masters@thechron­i­cle.com.au

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

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