'It's crunch time for our industry'

Dairy farmers need help to ensure future

Dairy
Upper Barron dairy farmers Greg and Bronwyn English with six of their seven children Hannah, 13, Catherine, 16, Patrick, 15, Rachel, 19, and twins Frances and Mary, 11.

Upper Barron dairy farmers Greg and Bronwyn English with six of their seven children Hannah, 13, Catherine, 16, Patrick, 15, Rachel, 19, and twins Frances and Mary, 11.

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Greg English is angry and at a loss to understand why the federal government won't move to support dairy farmers.

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Greg English is a dairy farmer at Upper Barron on the Tableland.

Mr English, who has seven children, said the future for young people wanting to make a career in the industry was uncertain.

He said his children were all interested in the industry, but he couldn't say with any certainty that they would have a future in dairying in the years to come.

"My kids are all interested in it, but you just don't know what will happen with the way things are now," Mr English said.

He is angry and at a loss to understand why the federal government won't move to support dairy farmers.

What he finds contradictory are the enormous, multi-million dollar bonuses paid to CEOs exiting major corporations.

"We see these CEOs being paid these bonuses of millions of dollars and here we are quibbling about a few cents for what is a major food product," Mr English said.

"We are paying double and more for grain and cotton seed and we are still fighting for a few extra cents for our milk. They don't even make one cent, two cent and five cent prices anymore, but that's what we're fighting over.

"It's crunch time for our industry. It really is."

Tablelands Regional Council Mayor Joe Paronella said the industry was on the point of collapse. He said he had travelled to Canberra last week where he met with politicians including Warren Entsch and Senators Susan McDonald, James McGrath and Matt Canavan.

"We are in a crisis. If we lose just a few more farmers, we could lose our milk factory. This is about our entire community. There are 100 jobs at the factory. It's the future of our community," he said.

Cr Paronella said supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths had to be brought to heel. He said the two retailers were squeezing down hard on processors who in turn were squeezing down hard on the farmers.

"The federal government has to support the farmers," he said.

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