WELFARE support to help farmers put food on the table were put forward at a dairy meeting in South Australia.
Up to 200 people attended a meeting at Mt Gambier to discuss the current industry and listen to speaker such as Murray Goulburn representative Robert Poole, Dairy Australia’s Joanne Bills and Grain market analyst Ron Storey.
Farmers travelled from as far away as Blythe in South Australia’s mid-north to Cobden in Western Victoria and they asked questions right throughout the three hour meeting.
There are about 290 dairy farms in South Australia with about 65 per cent of the state’s milk coming from the South East.
South Australian Dairy Farmers association president David Basham told the crowd to register their interest for collective bargaining, pooling milk to sell to a processor, as a way to help improve farmgate returns.
“We need a large pool of milk, 100 million litres plus,” he said.
Mr Basham said there were strict rules around the collective bargaining and SADA could not be involved, but the process had been successful in the Fleurieu Peninsula in bringing an extra processor to the region and adding competition.
An immediate solution offered by Mr Basham was welfare support for those dairy farmers struggling to food on the table in the current low price, high cost environment.
Wellington farmer Melanie Welsh gave a passionate plea for the industry to consider new markets, suggestion milk at schools would encourage parents to purchase dairy products at the supermarket.
She said there was no way she could get more efficient on-farm and there was no room to move financially in tough times.
Allendale East dairy farmer Lorraine Robertson encouraged farmers, who were going to make a taxation loss, to do their income tax as soon as possible.
She said proving to the Federal Government dairy farmers were making a loss was one way the industry could influence the fiscal and monetary policy of the nation.
Burrungule, near Mt Gambier, dairy farmer Rodger Clark said if processors want more milk they should pay for it.
Allendale East dairy farmer John Hunt followed this same line of questioning when he asked why a shortage of milk globally hasn’t led to higher prices like what has happened recently with grain prices.
He also asked why dairy farmers can not pass on their costs.
Meeting chairman, Mil Lel dairy farmer Charles Wallis addressed the crowd at the start and told the crowd Australian was no longer a cheap place to do business.
He asked for each farmer to “bang on” their processors door, because industry issues were more than just a higher milk price.
For example, he said processors payment structures meant the lowest farmgate price was during spring when there’s plenty of homegrown feed and the highest was when there is little or no grass.
Murray Goulburn representative Robert Poole offered farmers some hope, by saying there was a light at the end of the tunnel for prices as affects of lower global production start to filter through to world supply.
He assured farmers the cooperative was aware of farm cash-flow pressure and he encouraged farmers to talk to MG about loans or forgo share payments for the moment.
Acknowledging that the Australian dollar above parity was damaging returns for the cooperative, he said if the Australian dollar was at US$0.90 cents it would turn MG’s $1.2 billion worth of exports into $1.33 billion.
Mr Poole said MG was focused on cutting costs and would look at higher value markets.
“If we hadn’t done the cost cutting we would be 20 cents (a kilogram milk solids) below $4.90kg/MS (the current MG price),” he said.
The Australian dollar would be below parity with the US dollar by September according to NAB head of markets in South Australia and Northern Territory Alice Haynes.
She told the meeting that bank forecasts suggested the by June next year it would be down to US$0.96 cents and explained that quantitative easing, the mining boom and Australia’s good credit rating combined with high yields from investing in Australian government bonds were some of the factors holding the Australia dollar at current levels.The meeting was held by SADA and Farmer Power.