Muted response from dairy farmers to Senate inquiry

Murray-Goulburn-2THE long overdue Senate inquiry into the dairy industry gained a muted response from farmer groups when the final report was released after several delays.

The Senate Standing Committee on Economics handed down 12 recommendations, including that:

• Dairy processors set opening prices conservatively to avoid retrospective price step-downs that have devastating impacts on dairy farmers;
• The ACCC address the issue of whether milk supply contracts fall under the scope of unfair contract term laws; and
• The government prioritise action to reduce the regulatory burden across the cooperative sector and support programs to facilitate the establishment of new cooperatives

United Dairyfarmers of Victoria President Adam Jenkins said the farmer group acknowledged the recommendations, but that the Committee missed a vital opportunity to address key inequities in the dairy industry, including the role of retailers in promoting the rise of discounted dairy products.

“Most of the Committee’s recommendations reaffirm a lot of the work the dairy industry is already undertaking to improve transparency along the supply chain,” Mr Jenkins said.

“However, we do note that the considerable time that was spent talking about retail pricing during the enquiry doesn’t seem to be properly represented among the recommendations.”

The Senate report, originally due in February, was granted five extensions before it was finally released last night.

Another report, targeting competitiveness and transparency in the Australian dairy industry, is currently being conducted by The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and due to be handed down in November.

Mr Jenkins said farmers now hoped the competition watchdog would address concerns along the entire supply chain that were absent from the Senate Committee’s report.

“This is a really good opportunity to have a lot of these concerns addressed and we’re looking forward to the ACCC report making some solid recommendations to further restore trust, transparency and to help repair the supply chain,” he said.

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