The pre-election commitment by both the Coalition and Labor to support the convening of a second dairy symposium, to be held after the federal election, is to be applauded.
The dairy industry, as has been highlighted by the ACCC in its 2018 report, is experiencing market failure brought on by the dominance of the supermarkets and the inability of dairy farmers to be able to negotiate a strong and fair farmgate price with their processors.
There are ample reasons for a symposium to be convened after the federal election. While the Mandatory Dairy Code, which originated from the first dairy symposium in 2016, has gone part way to restoring trust and transparency, there remains work to do.
In recent months dairy industry organisations have advocated for increases in the dairy cabinet prices that supermarkets are currently charging their customers. Ensuring a better return on milk sales to the dairy processors puts them in a better position to pass down price increases to dairy farmers, thus enabling them to remain on their dairy farms.
Currently, the number of dairy farms is continuing to decrease, and the amount of milk being produced around the country is reducing.
Agriculture over the past years has been subjected to drought, bushfires and now ongoing floods. This is in combination with high input costs. For example, the prices of fertiliser and diesel have more than doubled over the past 12 months, and this is adversely impacting the capacity of dairy farms to survive into the future.
Bringing together the players within the dairy value chain to address the ongoing issues, find solutions and stop the exodus of dairy farmers from the land is critical to the future of Australian agriculture and in fact to Australia's own food security and resilience.
That is why the election commitment by the Coalition and Labor to hold a dairy symposium provides a platform to restore faith and future growth for the dairy industry.
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