Dairy might be in a good place now, but based on history there is no question that a return to discount milk prices is not a matter of if, but when. Unfortunately, the Australian Government has missed an opportunity to deliver real protection for dairy producers, argues NSW Farmers, who point out that the feds issued a watered-down response to a competition review just days before Christmas.
Cowra farmer and NSW Farmers' dairy committee chair Colin Thompson said he was disappointed the Morrison government had chosen not to pursue substantive competition reform, which would have protected farmers from exploitation.
"We have been calling for broad competition reform that supports a fair environment for all dairy and primary producers, so that the price they receive is a true reflection of the value of their product," Mr Thompson said.
"This is of critical importance to the dairy industry, because we have no real protection from a return to the bad times of discount milk that sent many farmers to the wall.
"While we welcome the government's support for the recommendation that seeks to amend the Dairy Code of Conduct, it's disappointing they did not support substantive reforms to the Competition and Consumer Act."
It was recently revealed that many farmers were fearful of speaking out on pricing because of the power imbalance in the fresh food supply chain, something Mr Thompson said had no place in Australia.
"People being too afraid to speak is not something you'd expect to find in a liberal democracy like ours, and government should put an end to it," Mr Thompson said.
"Other report recommendations that government supported do not go far enough."
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