Norco Co-operative, Australia's largest and oldest dairy co-operative, has announced a milk price increase for May and June 2022, which will see a $1.6 million injection go towards supporting its farmer base following an exceptionally difficult period of production.
The increase will see Norco's 281 active members receive an additional 5 cents a litre paid as a co-operative premium above the previously advised milk prices, taking the average price to 84c/L - a move which recognises the challenging operating conditions being experienced on-farm.
Norco chief executive Michael Hampson said it has been an especially difficult time for their farmer members who have faced unprecedented challenges as a result of the recent natural disasters across northern NSW and southern Queensland, combined with rapidly increasing cost of production.
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"We are constantly looking at ways to increase the milk price for our members and industry at large and given the devastating impact of recent weather events on the Norco supply base, there has never been a more important time to deliver this support to farmers," he said.
"Following the floods, many of our farmer members have repair costs in the tens of millions.
"This follows periods of rising operating costs and decreased production due to the significant and prolonged weather conditions which has placed added cash flow pressures on our members.
"As a business, we know firsthand the challenges faced following natural disasters, so remain wholly committed to doing everything we can to support our farmers during this period and beyond."
Mr Hampson adds that over the past three seasons, Norco has demonstrated its commitment to increasing farm gate prices over and above the June/July opening price, with closing prices consistently above initial opening offers.
"This is something we're incredibly proud of and sets Norco apart from other major processors in northern NSW and Queensland," he said.
Beyond this, Norco acknowledges the need to do more and for further financial support to assist farmers in the recovery process.
According to Hampson, future price increases will be critical in helping to ensure the viability of dairy farming for their members, which is why they remain committed to passing on future price improvements where possible.
As a result, the co-operative is currently exploring further milk price increases for the 2022/23 financial year which will be announced on or before June 1, 2022.
Hampson added that while their primary focus is to provide support to their farmer members, the co-operative remains equally committed to helping safeguard the future of the Australian diary industry.
"We need to invest in building a sustainable future for our dairy farmers and to do that, our farmers need to make a profit," he said.
"If they can't, it reflects an undervaluation of their product which then points to the supply chain needing to change this value equation.
"Norco certainly understands this and is working hard to deliver improved value, not only for our members but the wider industry."
Hampson also noted that consumer support will also play an important role in helping farmers recover.
"Consumers may see a slight price increase when buying Norco, but they can be assured that every single cent goes back to helping our farmers rebuild," he said.
"Through buying Norco, consumers are helping to safeguard the future of our dairy industry."
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