AGRICULTURE Minister Jaala Pulford has signaled the dairy industry could be battling low prices for some time.
Ms Pulford said a dairyindustry taskforce set up on Thursdayin response to big milk price cuts by Murray Goulburn and Fonterra wouldhelp farmers operate in “a lower price environment”.
The price cuts by MG and Fonterra would affect about 80 per cent of Victoria’s dairy farmers, she said.
Ms Pulford said the taskforce’s immediate priorities were the welfare of dairy farmers and whether any of the existing programs needed to be extended.
“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,” she said.
“What is going on is an adjustment, not just in Victoria, not just in Australia, but an international adjustment in the dairy price.
“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.”
Ms Pulford said the taskforce’sfirst meeting on Thursday had shown astrong commitment by the dairy industry to its suppliers.
She said it also underlinedthe “desire of the industry to work constructively to provide support to people who are really doing it very toughat the moment”.
The meeting on Thursday that formed the taskforce included representatives of dairy processors, the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria, the Victorian Farmers Federation, Dairy Australia andthe Victorian Agricultural Advisory Council.
Ms Pulfordsaid one of the first things the taskforce would do was map the extent of the problem.
“It’s premature to know what kind of support communities need,” Ms Pulford said.
“There will be some communities which will be significantly impacted by this so we will monitor that closely and respond accordingly.”
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