When the best decision isn’t the popular one

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Although on the face of it, a motion to support the introduction of a national floor price for milk might seem like a solution to the problems faced by our dairy farmers, the reality is that it would have been no remedy at all for local farmers.  It would lead to the decimation of the industry in Queensland. That is precisely why I could not support this “quick fix”.  It wasn’t a fix at all. 

The National Farmer’s Federation, The Queensland Dairy Organisation and the South Australians all know full well that a national floor price as proposed by Labor and some crossbenchers would leave Victorian farmers rubbing their hands together with glee and Queensland farmers out in the cold. 

Local dairy farmers tell me that the average cost of production in Queensland, before the drought was 55c a litre and now it’s in most cases in excess of 60 cents.  In Victoria it is 40c.  It’s easy to see why the Victorians are in favour of a floor price – it will separate the national industry into the highly profitable and those just scraping by.  The end result of that will be catastrophic for Queensland and we won’t be able to fix it.

It’s typical Labor thinking when it comes to agricultural policy – because they just don’t get farmers.  It’s reactionary and its a crude attempt to play politics with the livelihoods of Queensland farmers.  It’s the same thinking that shut down the live export trade.  It’s the same thinking that bought us vegetation management laws.  It’s the same thinking that saw Labor vote down the 3.9 billion dollar Future Drought Fund.

History teaches us the lesson about the failure of floor prices when this was introduced to the wool industry in the 1980’s.  It was a disaster.

Dairy farmers are hard working and all they ask for is a fair go;  a good price for the product they produce.  My local dairy farmers, like my meat, grain and vegetable producers need to be able to share their legitimate and increasing costs from this drought with processors and retailers.  They cannot shoulder the burden alone. 

I am calling on Coles and Aldi to get on board and support our dairy farmers.  There needs to be fewer charity wishing wells in the front of the store and better prices for a what is an amazing product – Queensland milk.  Don’t hand out charity to our farmers when you won’t pay them a fair price for their hard work. 

Every one of us needs to support our dairy farmers by buying branded milk.  We can all make a difference and support our farmers.  Every time you pick up a bottle of milk, you send a message to our famers.  Better to leave an extra dollar at the till than in a wishing well.

In the past days, I’ve been out talking to our local farmers and have heard loud and clear their concerns, frustration and worries.  Drought and rising costs have hit them hard.  It costs more to produce a litre of milk than it did last year.  That’s why the answer lies in the processors and the retailers recognising this in the price they pay at the farm gate.  

Make no mistake, a floor price is a quick fix vote winner that when applied in the past was a disaster. 

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