DAIRY farmers in the Far North are calling for fair milk prices amid soaring costs and a decline in production.
Millaa Millaa, Qld, farmer James Geraghty bought his farm with his parents in 1981 and has a dairy herd of about 230 Friesians.
But like so many in the industry, Mr Geraghty is struggling to maintain a viable business amid soaring production costs and low prices.
Mr Geraghty said while farmers benefited when generic supermarket brand milk increased in price by 10c a litre, further increases had not been passed on and a levy on branded milk had not been established.
"The initial concept put up quite some time ago was for 10c a litre to be put on all milk," Mr Geraghty said.
"We were getting the entire 10c on the generic milk and the lobby lasted three or four months, which was appreciated by the farmers.
"But they've bumped it up and the second 10c isn't being passed on at all, branded milk is not included, so we're only receiving about 3.5c a litre more on total production."
Mr Geraghty said it had been a tough season on the Tablelands, with weather conditions contributing to the difficulties.
"From mid December to the end of June it didn't stop raining and now it's hardly raining at all," he said.
"Everything we use had to be freighted in, we have very little feed and cotton seed is twice what we paid last year.
"It's pretty tough everywhere at the moment, and production is well down."
Hill MP Shane Knuth this month put a motion before state parliament calling for the full 10 cents a litre to be passed on to the farmers, saying it was vital for the industry's survival.
The Katter's Australian Party member has long been an advocate for the dairy industry, having unsuccessfully introduced a Fair Milk Logo Scheme into Queensland parliament, to enable processors to put a logo on bottles to indicate they paid farmers a fair price for milk.
Mr Knuth said there were 53 dairy farmers left on the Tablelands down from 270 prior to deregulation.
Only 340 dairy farmers remain in Queensland, down from over 1500 in 2000.
"The Queensland dairy industry is in dire straits," Mr Knuth said.
"If the current trend continues, this once proud and booming industry will cease to exist in the year 2028."
Mr Knuth said while milk prices had increased for consumers, the promised full 10c a litre was not being passed on.
"There has been... misleading messages that the 10 cents a litre milk increase is going directly to the farmer. This is only on the supermarket branded milk and not all the other brands," he said.
Mr Knuth said 140,000 people signed a Queensland Dairy Organisation petition calling for the entire 10c a litre price increase to go back to farmers.
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