Grass roots asked about floor

Senate dairy inquiry tours to hear from grass roots

ADF News
REPRESENTATION QUESTION: South Australia Dairyfarmers Association president John Hunt.

REPRESENTATION QUESTION: South Australia Dairyfarmers Association president John Hunt.

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A minimum farmgate milk price proposal is far from dead, despite its defeat by a single vote in the senate just before Christmas.

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The bid to introduce a minimum farmgate milk price is far from dead, despite its defeat by a single vote in the senate just before Christmas.

And the key to whether a bill succeeds second time around may lie in the sense of how close South Australian Dairyfarmers Association (SADA) is to grass roots dairy farmers.

Labor and the Greens supported the Pauline Hanson senate bill and it would only take the support of the Centre Allianceto pass the senate.

When the Centre Alliance, whose slogan is SA always comes first, turned to its state dairy organisation for guidance on the One Nation proposal, SADA came out swinging against a minimum milk price.

But the Centre Alliance agricultural spokesperson, Rebekha Sharkie, said it may revisit a minimum price proposal.

"A lot of the feedback we got from the dairy industry more broadly at the time said Pauline Hanson's proposals were not what the processors or the peak bodies were looking for," she said.

"However, in my conversations over the summer with a number of dairy farmers, I think there's a bit of a disconnect between what peak bodies are saying and what mum and dad dairy farmers are saying are the problems and the reasons why so many are leaving the industry.

"We're prepared to look at this with fresh eyes and get a broader sense of what grass roots - those who are getting up at 4am every day - are looking for from government to ensure that they can continue to milk into the future."

SADA wouldn't disclose how many of the estimated 212 dairy farmers in SA were members.

Labor said it would continue to support the investigation of a minimum farmgate milk price by the ACCC.

The Greens however, have floated an amendment that would involve having the ACCC authorise any downwards farmgate milk prices.

Agriculture minister David Littleproud said the coalition would continue to oppose the bill.

"A floor price is not the solution," Mr Littleproud said.

"It's bad economics. Bad for the future of the industry.

"The dairy code of conduct is now taking effect, providing farmers with a clear minimum milk price from processors over the course of a contract - giving them greater bargaining power in negotiations.

"And when it comes to code compliance, the ACCC will be the tough cop on the beat.

"We can't be distracted by populist quick fixes that harm our dairy farmers in the long run."

The senate inquiry will travel to Murray Bridge, SA, on April 15 and Warrnambool, Vic, on May 8 to hear from farmers.

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The story Grass roots asked about floor first appeared on Stock & Land.

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