Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford
The Victorian Government has set up a taskforce, to help dairy farmers through what Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford says is a “significant shift in the market.”
The Dairy Industry Taskforcewill be headed by Victorian Agriculture Advisory Committee chair Mike Taylor, after 80 percent of the state’s farmers were affected by price cuts.
“People are in a state of shock, they are angry, I think they have had their confidence shaken in decision makers, there’s a lot of anxiety there.”
Ms Pulford said there was a global shift in the milk price, resulting in farmers “facing some pretty significant distress.
“What is going on is an adjustment, not just in Victoria, not just in Australia, but an international adjustment in the dairy price,” Ms Pulford said.
“This is not something that is going to be over in weeks or months -this is a challenge that is going to face our dairy farmers, perhaps for the longer term,and so our challenge is about helping businesses transition to a lower price environment.
“One thing which was really clear was the degree of commitment by industry to its suppliers, to their farmers, and desire of the industry to work constructively to provide support to people who are really doing it very tough, at the moment.”
The taskforce was formed at a meeting of representatives ofprocessors, the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) and the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF)
It was convened after Murray Goulburn’s shock decision to cut its farmgate milk price, followed today by Fonterra’s decision to drop its price by 60 cents.
Ms Pulfordsaid one of the first things the taskforce would do was to map the extent of the problem.
“It’s premature to know what kind of support communities need, there will be some communities which will be significantly impacted by this so we will monitor that closely and respond accordingly.
‘There are already some very good programs which exist;what we need to do, is extend them.”
The Minister said farmers would be looking for advice about their own personal circumstances, but that would vary from business to business.
“Some of the variables there are the amount of debt the business is holding and the extent to which they have already been impacted by drought – there is a lot of information gathering, to do, in the first instance.”
Mr Pulford said the Victorian product was still highly sought by international markets and the sector still had a very bright future.
She said the taskforce will meet again in a fortnight but, in the mean time, consumers could help.
“Eat more cheese, drink more milk,” she said
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