Labor consults South West farmers on milk floor

Zach Relph and Jacinta CantatoreCountryman
Brunswick dairy producer Michael Partridge was among farmers to meet with Federal shadow agriculture minister Joel Fitzgibbon last week.
Camera IconBrunswick dairy producer Michael Partridge was among farmers to meet with Federal shadow agriculture minister Joel Fitzgibbon last week. Credit: Jon Gellweiler

Federal shadow agriculture minister Joel Fitzgibbon has amplified calls to set a minimum milk price to underpin the nation’s struggling dairy industry, saying it will alleviate farmers suffering under high operating costs.

After consulting with South West dairy farmers in Brunswick on Tuesday last week while in WA, Mr Fitzgibbon echoed Federal Labor’s vision for dairy sector reform.

Federal Labor has proposed an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission-led investigation to establish a minimum farmgate milk price for Australia’s milk suppliers, if elected at May’s looming election.

Mr Fitzgibbon said the plan, alongside a mandatory code of conduct, was a “meaningful” solution to helping dairy farmers suffering under low milk prices and high operational expenses.

“I took my dairy policy consultations to WA,” he said.

“Dairy farmers in the State’s south welcomed Labor’s acknowledgement that the dairy industry is in crisis and our promise to intervene in a meaningful way.

“Labor recognises dairy farmers are caught in a cost-price squeeze which has been compounded by drought.”

Brunswick dairy farmer and WAFarmers dairy section president Michael Partridge was among dairy farmers to meet Mr Fitzgibbon.

Mr Partridge said the discussions, at his White Rocks property, were pleasing.

“We appreciate that Joel recognises there is a significant problem with the dairy industry’s pricing structure,” he said.

“Something needs to be done and we have to be open to work with everyone that puts forward a possible solution.”

Liberal Forest MHR Nola Marino, whose husband Charlie is a long-standing Harvey-based dairy farmer, queried how Labor intended to implement a minimum price.

“The question that will need to be answered is how will Labor implement a floor price that will work in every State and every market we sell into,” Mrs Marino said.

Mr Fitzgibbon’s dairy floor price suggestion comes after Coles and Aldi last week followed Woolworths’ footsteps, succumbing to mounting industry pleas to end $1-per-litre milk.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has previously rejected Labor’s milk price floor.

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