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Dairy ombudsman plea

LONG BATTLE: Dairy farmer Ross McInnes calls for an ombudsman to oversee the industry.
LONG BATTLE: Dairy farmer Ross McInnes calls for an ombudsman to oversee the industry. Rob Williams

AN OMBUDSMAN should be introduced by the ACCC to oversee the dairy industry, according to a Harrisville farmer.

Queensland Dairy Organisation vice-president Ross McInnes said the current ACCC investigation was a positive step for the industry; however, it needed to see real outcomes to save the local industry.

Mr McInnes said the QDO had been calling for the investigation for two years after the introduction of $1 per litre milk in 2011.

His cries for an ombudsman come only days after Federal Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean said dairy farmers were being "screwed" by the major supermarkets.

Mr McInnes said the ACCC investigation into the industry the comments by Mr Crean were welcome but long overdue.

"It is definitely good to see that," he said.

"It's a bit of a relief; we've been waiting for this for two years now."

Mr McInnes said he hoped the ACCC would be able to establish an ombudsman to keep an eye on the industry.

"The industry has been calling out for a code of conduct to be put in place.

"I think it would be a good opportunity for the introduction of an ombudsman to the industry."

Mr McInnes said the industry had been hit hard by declining prices for milk as well as damage by natural disasters.

He said the price per litre of milk had dropped nearly to the levels it was 20 years ago.

"In 1992 we were receiving 48c/L; today most producers are getting 51-52c/L. To compare, the price of a litre of petrol in 1992 was 65c.

"Dairy farmers, especially around south-east Queensland just can't survive with these prices.

"The average dairy is not a big business at all. Most dairies would turn over about $500,000 a year. Just one cent per litre less is a lot of money."

The ACCC investigation has offered to keep suppliers to the major supermarkets confidential after having trouble finding suppliers who would speak publicly.

Coles has previously told the Queensland Times they have not dropped the price of milk they pay to processors.

Topics:  dairy farmers, queensland dairyfarmers' organisation




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