Milk processors support a 10c/litre levy
EVERY time a dairy farmer leaves the industry, that's an extra suburb in Brisbane that has to import milk from down south, says Glenore Grove dairy farmer Luke Stock.
It's a scary reality Queenslanders will face if the dairy industry doesn't receive adequate farm-gate prices or support from consumers.
In a bid to help farmers struggling in the drought, Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation has launched a campaign urging supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths to up their $1-a-litre milk by 10 cents.
Mr Stock welcomed the announcement and said it would help the farmers if they could pick up the levy.
"A lot of people think we get paid directly by Woolworths and Coles, but of course there is a processor in the middle," Mr Stock said.
"You have to be conscious that (with) any increase in the price in the supermarket, we are relying on the processor to pass it on as well."
He said on-farm production costs had risen sharply on last year, with grain prices up 50per cent and hay costs increasing by 70per cent.
In a statement, Woolworths indicated its willingness to work with the Federal Government on temporary drought relief measures for dairy farmers and looked forward to seeing a policy proposal soon.
"We maintain our view that a holistic solution involving industry and government is needed to drive meaningful and long-term reform in the sector," a Woolworths spokesperson said.
Coles remains undecided on the levy.
Meanwhile, processor Parmalat (Pauls) confirmed it would pass on the full levy amount to farmers, should it come into effect.
But dairy co-operative Norco has announced it will increase the base price of milk by fivecents a litre, saying its farmers can't wait for the levy to be introduced.
Even if the levy does come through, Mr Stock said it was a Band-Aid fix and the marketplace needed to reform so dairy farmers were paid a "fair and equitable" price for their product.
"I don't think it matters if you're a dairy farmer or what line of agriculture you're in, we aren't looking for government handouts," he said.
"What we would expect is to be able to make enough money or profit in the good times to be able to put away in the bad times."
Mr Stock said fair prices would alleviate the need for government handouts and milk levies during difficult situations.
"At the end of the day, the consumers are the ones that decide whether to purchase the product in-store. If they want to sustain fresh milk in Queensland, then the farm price definitely has to increase," he said.
Federal Agricultural Minister David Littleproud acknowledged Woolworths and Coles were sensitive to the impact an extra 10c per litre of milk would place on family budgets.
"Consumers need to understand the impact of having few Australian dairy farmers north of the Victorian border would be much greater in the long term," he said.