A fresh milk crisis taskforce will be established to help Australian dairy farmers who are doing it tough in drought ravaged towns.
The Fresh Milk and Dairy Advocate will lead a dedicated Dairy Business Advisory Unit within the Department of Primary Industries, which will focus on driving demand for NSW milk through a marketing campaign, as well as offering fully subsidised course fees for the NSW Dairy Farm Training Program to support the next generation of dairy farmers.
Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, said the Advocate’s first order of business was to identify immediate and necessary actions for the sector.
“We will help our dairy farmers beat this drought, but what concerns me the most is the systemic issues in the dairy industry which mean many of our farmers, even if the drought breaks, may find there is no point in carrying on,” Mr Blair said.
“I have met with dairy farmers, processors and retailers right across NSW. All have different challenges but one message is clear – there is not enough profitability in the whole dairy supply chain.
“We have become accustomed to paying $1 for a litre for milk but it is worth so much more.
“The simple truth is it costs farmers money to produce milk, it costs processors money to process milk and it costs retailers money to stock milk, yet we’re not paying enough to cover any of these costs and dairy farms across the state are collapsing as a result.
“The situation is dire. When our farmers are no longer able to produce fresh milk and it’s being imported from interstate or overseas, the retail price of milk will skyrocket, leaving supermarkets with an unaffordable product and a reputation permanently tarnished by having destroyed the dairy industry in NSW.
“If irrational milk pricing continues, the future of the industry is in real danger. I am calling on everyone – processors, retailers and consumers – to do their part and stop undervaluing fresh milk in NSW as a matter of urgency.”
Dairy farmers in the NSW town of Raleigh are facing one of the driest periods on record, which is driving up input and processing costs.
Member for Oxley, Melinda Pavey, said; “the milk production and processing sectors in particular play a very important role in the local economy and contribute significantly to communities across the region, including right here in Raleigh.”
Immediate actions to support NSW dairy farmers include:
- Establishing an Agricultural Commissioner
- Appointing a Fresh Milk and Dairy Advocate and establishing a dedicated Dairy Business Advisory unit within DPI
- Working with the industry to develop a ‘buy local fresh milk’ marketing campaign and undertaking a targeted marketing campaign overseas using the NSW Trade office network
- Offering fully subsidised course fees for the NSW Dairy Farm Training Program
- Maintaining a commercial dairy at DPI for research and training
- Reprioritising investment into key research areas identified by the industry
- Continuing industry extension support services to provide advice to dairy farmers across NSW
- Extending access to the $3 million cattle underpass project to ensure more farmers can safely move cattle