The Australian Government has missed a golden opportunity to deliver real protection for dairy farmers, issuing a watered-down response to a competition review just before Christmas.
NSW Farmers Dairy Committee Chair Colin Thompson said he was disappointed the 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 it’s about time the government stepped up and put an end to it,” Mr Thompson said.
“The other recommendations that the government has supported in the report do not go far enough in improving competition for agriculture, and merely tinkers around the edges of reform.
“NSW Farmers will continue to urge the government to tackle the big issues, and it’s sad to see they’ve missed the point on real reform this time around.”