Time to end dairy industry reform bias

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New Delhi, December 06, 2018:  THERE’S an alarming bias appearing in the federal Department of Agriculture’s approach to dairy industry reform.

There are clear examples of bureaucrats responding to processors’ demands to water down farmers’ attempts to gain a comparative milk price index and fairer supply agreements.

It was federal bureaucrats who oversaw the watering down of Australia’s much hyped $2 million milk price index.

First the budget was cut to $1.19m. Then the department sacked the highly respected Webber Quantitative Consulting team, developing an index that exposed just how inefficient local processors had become.

The department ultimately delivered an index that was nothing more than an appeal for farmers to lodge their prices on a website, plus a mirror of existing global commodity price indices.

Now we’re seeing what appears to be bureaucrats once again kowtowing to processors.

Farmers attending department-run “consultative” meetings on developing a mandatory dairy code of conduct are being presented with a template developed by the Australian Dairy Industry Council, dominated by processors and reliant and their funding according to weeklytimesnow.com.au.

The history of dairy farmer disempowerment must end.

Farmers don’t even have a say on how much they pay in levies any more.

In 2016 farmers lost the right to vote every five years on the levy rate they paid Dairy Australia — about $5500 a year from the average farmer and $20,000 from those with 1000 cows.

It’s time Agriculture Minister David Littleproud put an end to his department’s bias and backed his farmer base.

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