Dairy farmers fear future

About a dozen Dairy Farmers producers met with opposition spokesman for Agriculture and Food Security John Cobb, Member for Gilmore Joanna Gash and Liberal candidate for Gilmore Ann Sudmalis on Thursday, concerned about the 12cents/litre price Lion Dairy and Drinks was now paying for their surplus tier-two milk.

Jamberoo dairy farmer Stephen Downes said after deregulation, farmers had been encouraged to increase their production and grow their businesses. However, he said Lion no longer needed everything they produced after it lost the Woolworths unbranded milk contract.

"Then they say, 'sorry we stuffed up, we've lost all our contracts, how about we ... give you 12 cents for it?"' he said.

"You're talking a two or three-year plan - bringing cows in, getting them in calf and then they go, 'we got that wrong, we're backdating your contract, slashing your price, thanks for coming'."

Tier-one milk, the milk processed as fresh drinking milk, is currently returning about 45 cents a litre to the farmer. However, Lion is set to take nine per cent less from farmers.

As a result, more milk will fall into tier two, which is onsold to become yoghurt or cheese.

Jamberoo dairy farmer Mark Honey said farmers were concerned consumers would not be able to buy fresh milk in 10 years' time.

Mrs Gash said she was prepared to speak on the issue under parliamentary privilege, while Ms Sudmalis urged consumers to buy branded milk to ensure farmers' survival and stop future cost blow-outs to $4-5 a litre.

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