Time to end dairy in­dus­try bi­ases

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - READERS’ PIC | THE ROUND-UP - — Ed­i­to­rial, The Weekly Times

THERE’S an alarm­ing bias ap­pear­ing in the fed­eral De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s ap­proach to dairy in­dus­try re­form.

There are clear ex­am­ples of bu­reau­crats re­spond­ing to pro­ces­sors’ de­mands to wa­ter down farm­ers’ at­tempts to gain a com­par­a­tive milk price in­dex and fairer sup­ply agree­ments.

It was fed­eral bu­reau­crats who over­saw the wa­ter­ing down of Aus­tralia’s much hyped $2 mil­lion milk price in­dex.

First the bud­get was cut to $1.19m.

Then the de­part­ment sacked the highly re­spected Web­ber Quan­ti­ta­tive Con­sult­ing team, de­vel­op­ing an in­dex that ex­posed just how in­ef­fi­cient lo­cal pro­ces­sors had be­come.

The de­part­ment ul­ti­mately de­liv­ered an in­dex that was noth­ing more than an ap­peal for farm­ers to lodge their prices on a web­site, plus a mir­ror of ex­ist­ing global com­mod­ity price in­dices.

Now we’re see­ing what ap­pears to be bu­reau­crats once again kow­tow­ing to pro­ces­sors.

Farm­ers at­tend­ing de­part­ment-run “con­sul­ta­tive” meet­ings on de­vel­op­ing a manda­tory dairy code of con­duct are be­ing pre­sented with a tem­plate de­vel­oped by the Aus­tralian Dairy In­dus­try Coun­cil, dom­i­nated by pro­ces­sors and re­liant and their fund­ing.

The his­tory of dairy farmer dis­em­pow­er­ment must end.

Farm­ers don’t even have a say on how much they pay in levies any more.

In 2016 farm­ers lost the right to vote ev­ery five years on the levy rate they paid Dairy Aus­tralia – about $5500 a year from the av­er­age farmer and $20,000 from those with 1000 cows.

So when is enough, enough?

It’s time our Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture David Lit­tleproud put an end to his de­part­ment’s bias and backed his farmer base.

❝The his­tory of dairy farmer dis­em­pow­er­ment must end. Farm­ers don’t even have a say on how much they pay in levies any more.

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