Calls for dairy commissioner to help farmers


Dairy Connect argues a specific commissioner should be dedicated to focusing on farming businesses because of the importance of the products they supply and the complicated nature of supply agreements.

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“It’s a very different sort of area. This [milk] is a staple like bread, and we need to be able to get a consistent approach,” Morgan said.

The suggestion comes as the dairy sector continues to face “very difficult” conditions, Morgan said.

There’s also a number of future policy issues yet to play out. The government has committed to a mandatory dairy code to level the playing field between milk suppliers and processors, though there is still consultation left to go on this and it isn’t due to start until mid-2020.

The Labor party has committed to asking the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate whether a minimum farm gate milk price would work as a way of ensuring farmers earn a living wage.

The dairy sector has been upping its campaigning activities ahead of the election, with lobby group Farmer Power warning this election may be the “last chance” to develop meaningful policies to help a dairy sector facing climate and profitability challenges.

Farmer Power chief executive Garry Kerr said it was critical the sector had “someone not conflicted, and not in the back pockets of the processors” to advise policy makers on the best way to support farmers.

Over the past 12 months, the dairy sector has seen business owners turning to methods like crowdfunding to keep farms afloat. 

The drafting of regulations relating to the mandatory dairy code still needs to be completed this year, though the future timeline is not known given the upcoming election.

National dairy peak body Australian Dairy Farmers is less enthused about the idea of a national dairy commissioner.

“The roles that this position would seek to play are already filled by existing organisations and agencies,” a spokesperson for the group said.

The government and Labor have been contacted for comment.

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Emma is the small business reporter for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald based in Melbourne.

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