BARNABY Joyce has said it more than once - the dairy industry’s future is bright due to better days ahead in the global fats market.
But the Agriculture and Water Resources Minister denies he’s Nostradamus when it comes to farm commodity price predictions like dairy.
Mr Joyce has talked up the dairy price outlook and the industry’s future when quizzed by media about his reaction to recent news of factory closures and job losses in different states, at embattled milk processor Murray Goulburn.
At the weekend in Northern Regional Victoria for a decentralisation announcement, the Nationals leader was asked about the potential local impacts due to the milk processor’s decisions.
“About four or five years ago, I said to people in the beef cattle industry that cattle prices are going to go above $3kg live in the yards,” he said.
“Everyone said that’s bloody outrageous, you’re a fool, you don’t know what you’re talking about.
“But I was at a sale the other day and in some instances the prices were above $4.”
Mr Joyce said the fats market - the determinant of prices for the dairy industry - was now facing a strategic global deficit.
“I would say to those people in the dairy industry ‘better days are coming’ and you can see it now with the step-up in prices,” he said.
“I firmly believe that we’re going to see a resurgence in the fats market - which is for dairy products - for the next couple of years.”
Mr Joyce has also said the story underpinning the Murray Goulburn closures represents good and bad news, with three processing plants closing being “very hard on the employees”.
“I’m just hearing about this today so I have to see if there’s anything we can do,” he said in early May when the news first broke.
But he said on the good side, the milk processor was removing the need for its producer members to make payments on a loan they “never knew they had”.
“They’re ceasing people having to make those payments and they’re locking in $4.95 for milk solids and this gives people a chance to actually make a buck,” he said.
“And to be quite frank, there are dairy farmers out there, because of the low price of water and low price of grain that have been actually making money.
“I strongly believe that the dairy industry has a great future.
“I think the fats market globally when it’s in ultimate deficit, then you will see over the next couple of years, we just don’t have enough dairy product.
“I premise that on the last time I made a prediction like that when I said the price of cattle - this was like four years ago - would go through $3 kg live in the yards and everyone thought I was crazy but it’s gone beyond that and on and up, and the same thing is going to happen in the dairy markets.
“It’s not being Nostradamus - it’s just looking at a strategic deficit that’s building in that market.
“We want to make sure we keep the dairy farmers there because they’re going to make money.”
Mr Joyce said the government had been working “closely” with the dairy sector after the previous management of Murray Goulburn “did some pretty ordinary things and the ramifications of it have been widespread”.
But he said he was am happy farmers are now getting more money and the price was locked into something that’s “more sustainable”.
Nostradamus was a French philosopher from the 1500’s who published prophecies on world events like the rise of Adolph Hitler that have become infamous and a source of wide-spread debate and speculation, especially in popular culture.
Mr Joyce has however been criticised for repeatedly claiming political credit for government policy initiatives, and national economic performance, during his time as Agriculture Minister since the 2013 election, on the back of record high prices for farm products like sheep, grains and cattle and an array of horticultural produce.