Business

Time to respect dairy farmers

GIVE US A FAIR GO: Harrisville dairy farmer Ross McInnes says his industry is up against market forces that make it tougher by the day to make a living.
GIVE US A FAIR GO: Harrisville dairy farmer Ross McInnes says his industry is up against market forces that make it tougher by the day to make a living. Claudia Baxter

DAIRY farmers in Ipswich and the surrounding region continue to battle against what a leading Harrisville producer has called "disrespect".

Ross McInnes, Harrisville dairy farmer and the vice-president of the Queensland Dairy Farmers Organisation, has noted the decline in the per litre price in supermarkets.

He said it had been sold at lower than 10 cents a litre in one case.

"Milk is just being prostituted at that price," he said.

"The product is being disrespected and the farmers are being disrespected.

"You start doing this and you open a Pandora's Box.

"We have had concerns for years for $1 a litre milk.

"We've called that short-sighted and stupidity."

Mr McInnes said there was a strong belief through the dairy supply chain that $1 a litre milk was "here to stay in the short to medium term".

"The 10-year contracts in place with southern processors set the national pricing for milk through the supermarkets," he said.

"We've got an inflation rate of 2.3% and after 10 years that milk is worth 76 or 77 cents a litre.

"We are complaining strongly about farmers producing milk for those kinds of prices going forward."

Dairy farmers in Queensland are getting between 55 and 57 cents per litre for their milk.

Over recent decades producers' farm gate price continues to rise at a snail's pace.

Mr McInnes unveiled some compelling figures to highlight the hurdles dairy farmers face.

"Back in 1992 was the last time milk was $1 a litre under the regulated system," he said.

"In the 24 years since our farm gate price has gone up 20%.

"The average full-time wage has gone up 153% in that time.

"The ASX top 100 CEOs, their salaries have increased over 700% in that time.

"How do you have a fixed price going forward for the next five to 10 years when inflation will chip away at that?

"While $1 a litre milk sits on the shelves the branded milk cannot increase in price otherwise they lose market share. There is a direct relationship between $1 a litre milk and the branded item sitting there."

Topics:  dairy farmers, farming, ipswich, queensland dairyfarmers organisation



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