Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce conceded dairy workers were still reeling after a disastrous 12 months for the industry under Murray Goulburn but he was confident the sector would recover.
The agriculture and water resources minister commented on the plight of dairy workers during a brief visit to Wodonga on Saturday.
He supported moves by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to pursue legal action against former senior management at the dairy co-op.
“We’ve got a lot of dairy farmers who are really doing it tough,” the Nationals leader said. “I’m very happy in the decision Murray Goulburn has made, the new management, they’ve taken away this bogus liability they believed everybody had and are also trying to repay some of those payments that had been made.”
Many people affected by Murray Goulburn’s decision to close the Kiewa processing plant are expected to attend a public meeting at the Tangambalanga Community Centre on Monday at 6pm to look at support options available.
Indigo Shire mayor Jenny O’Connor will host the meeting and local, state and Federal government representatives, key agencies and Murray Goulburn representatives have been invited to the meeting.
Mr Joyce said not too long ago he was scoffed at for suggesting beef prices would go above $3 a kilogram liveweight in sale yards but is now seeing cattle around $4.
“There’s a strategic global deficit in the fats market so I can say for those in the dairy industry, better days are coming and you can see it right now with a step up in prices,” he said.
“That’s going hand-in-glove with cheap water prices and we’ve had cheaper grain prices.”