'Powdered milk the new norm if govt ignores minimal milk price'

'Powdered milk the new norm if govt ignores minimal milk price'

Politics
INDUSTRY CRUMBLING: Bob Katter hit out at the government for ignoring the issue.

INDUSTRY CRUMBLING: Bob Katter hit out at the government for ignoring the issue.

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"It is not an exaggeration to say that if we keep losing dairy farmers at this rate, we will soon be importing drinking milk in powdered form."

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Powdered milk will become the norm in the government continues to let the Australian dairy industry crumble, a chorus of politicians have claimed.

Labor and the crossbenchers are calling for minimum mandatory pricing for Australian milk, and hope to use the upcoming by-election of Eden-Monaro - one of the nation's largest dairy regions - to pressure the government.

Independent MP Bob Katter unloaded on the Coalition, after they gagged his motion to debate mandatory milk pricing.

"Every single political party is voting for some form of minimum pricing arrangement," Mr Katter said.

"The only political party in this country standing out against it is the Liberal-National Party."

Labor agriculture spokesperson Joel Fitzgibbon called on regional Coalition MPs to stand up for the industry before it no longer exists.

"It's a sobering fact to know that last year, in just 12 months, 500 dairy farmers left the land," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

"It is not an exaggeration to say that if we keep losing dairy farmers at this rate, we will soon be importing drinking milk in powdered form. I don't think any Australian wants that.

"This problem has been in play now for a number of years and our farmers have long been in a cost price squeeze."

Mr Katter said three years ago, there were 10,000 dairy farmers, now there about 5000.

"Take my electorate for example, which is a big dairy area, we had around 260 - I asked the day before yesterday and we're down to 48," the Katter's Australia Party MP said.

"That would be par for the course for the rest of Australia."

Mr Katter said it was abundantly clear to everyone deregulating the industry was a mistake, including a number of MPs within the Coalition who have admitted so.

"On the day before dairy deregulation, we were getting 60c a litre for fresh milk - the day after we were getting 41.1c a litre," Mr Katter said.

"30 per cent of our income was taken off us overnight. Every person in this room, imagine if you got a telephone call and were told that 30 per cent of your income was to be taken away tomorrow.

"That's what happened to these poor farmers."

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