Tuesday, 5 November 2013
Government Blocks Fair Milk Mark
Member for Dalrymple, Shane Knuth, has great concerns for the future of the dairy industry after the Agriculture Resources and Environment Committee rejected the Milk Pricing (Fair Milk Mark) Bill 2013.
The Bill was introduced by Mr Knuth and proposed a fair milk mark to identify milk that had been identified as being produced in Queensland for which farmers had been paid a reasonable amount above the cost of production.
Mr Knuth said, This market based mechanism would provide consumers with a clear opportunity to demonstrate their support for our Queensland dairy industry.
The Bill received overwhelming support from producers and industry representatives and even received a nod from processors and large retailers as a way forward for the struggling industry.
The Committee simply recommended these under-resourced, financially stricken producers look at increasing their investment to supply the Asian market or explore their own processing operation, yet have provided no solutions on how producers will find the resources to upscale dairy production or reconfigure operational focus and infrastructure in order to consider supplying an export market.
The Committee also decided that a fair milk mark could be put in place without a legislative framework.
The reality is we have lost 1000 dairy farmers in the last 10 years and since the supermarket price wars another 80 have disappeared. If we wait around in hope that the supermarket giants, retailers, processors and dairy farmers will implement their own fair milk mark, we will not have a dairy industry and will be drinking UHT milk from who knows where.
Action must be taken now.
Mr Knuth said it doesnt make sense when you have a massive backing from the dairy industry, dairy farmers and all stake-holders who have indicated that the fair milk mark has merit.
While I believe that arbitration is the best negotiation tool to arrive at an acceptable farm-gate price this Bill addresses the real issue with the Queensland dairy industry in a manner that is also consistent with governments beliefs in a free market economy.
Mr Knuth said that he will continue to pressure the government to take decisive action before its too late and we have completely lost our dairy industry altogether.