Dairy farmers across the nation have been forced to stop irrigating pastures after receiving their latest power bills which have been slugged on average an extra $24,000 a year.
In Queensland farmers also have to contend with the state Competition Authority and its approved large increase in water charges from Sunwater, but the devil in disguise is the $1 a litre milk price war being waged against them by Coles and Woolworths.
“You cant switch off the farm, we’re caught,” Victorian Farmers Federation president Peter Tuohey said.
Farm leaders are blaming the carbon and renewable energy taxes for the steep increases in power costs.
South Australian dairy farmer Lorraine Robertson said her most recent power bill of $25,000 was 50 per cent more than at the same time last year.
Farmers can expect no help from the Liberal or National Party because it was the Leader of the National Party, Warren Truss who, against industry advice, de-regulated the dairy industry ten years ago.
Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce has been vocal about rural industry issues especially the sale of Cubbie Station to the Chinese.
He will have the opportunity to put his money where his mouth is when federal MP Bob Katters Bill to reverse the sale of Cubbie is presented to parliament.
He will also have the chance to show his true allegiances when another Bill by Katter to reduce the grocery market share of the big two retailers to 22 per cent each is also presented in the Lower House.
Senator Joyce, food activist Dick Smith and Ausbuy chief executive Lyn Wilkinson will attend a Farmer Power dairy crisis meeting at Tongala Shire Hall on February 13.
Meanwhile Woolworths has complained about the extra tens of millions of dollars it has had to fork out across all of its nation-wide stores to cover the 10 per cent carbon tax.
It said it will not cut jobs to relieve costs and will simply absorb the impost.
It seems however, the duopoly has hatched a plan to eventually clear their cold shelves of fresh milk.
Industry leaders and dairy farmers believe Coles and Woolworths intend to force most dairy farmers out of the industry with their low milk prices, thus fresh milk will be replaced by UHT (ultra high temperature) carton milk which needs no costly refrigeration.
The milk supply for the UHT process will come from New Zealand, whatever large farms are left in Victoria or from anywhere else the greedy multinational retailers can source it.
UHT and pasteurised milk can be dangerous to health according to nutritionists because the high temperatures destroy the protein, beneficial bacteria and enzymes necessary for digestion.
Only fresh unpasteurized milk is suitable for human consumption.
Northern dairy farmers believe that within three years there will be no dairy farms left in North Queensland.