Dairy industry crisis
I rise to speak on the dairy crisis.
Yesterday's rally on the steps of Parliament House was an opportunity for dairy farmers and their supporters from across the state to express their anger, frustration and distress about the current situation, which has primarily been brought about by the sudden drop in milk prices announced by Murray Goulburn, followed by Fonterra, several weeks ago.
Suppliers and local communities are extremely disappointed in the behaviour of these two companies in relying on the clawback provisions in their supplier agreements to ensure that the losses of the last year are visited home directly to the dairy farmers. And indeed this is in circumstances where most of the other companies taking milk from our dairy farmers have chosen to maintain their price through to the end of this financial year.
Irrigators in the Goulburn-Murray region are also faced with poor prospects for the opening of the irrigation season, and the recent rains have done little to alleviate concerns about water availability. I attended the Farmpower meeting organised at Tongala last Thursday night. Ian Reid of Reid Stockfeeds talked of the serious impacts for his business and other businesses that would need to have their bills paid to survive. Rural financial counsellor Tom Chick urged farmers to take stock of their own situation and to look out for themselves, their neighbours and friends. Government support packages will be welcomed, but there are many questions that still need to be answered.