Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker has told Federal Parliament that the very future of dairy farming on the Mid North Coast was under threat from increasing costs and $1 a litre milk.
Mr Hartsuyker said extremely dry conditions were forcing farmers along the coast to buy supplementary feed for stock at up to $600 a tonne, which was around double pre-drought prices.
“My local dairy farmers are caught in a vice-like grip of low prices on the one hand and increased cost of inputs on the other,” Mr Hartsuyker told parliament.
“I’ve recently spoken to a number of dairy farmers who have expressed concern as to the long term viability of the industry on the Mid North Coast.”
He said the combined impact of high feed prices and $1 a litre milk was “massive”.
“On the revenue side the industry is being battered by dollar milk, putting incredible pressure on efficient, long term producers in my region.”
Mr Hartsuyker said some were losing up to $100,000 a year through higher costs and cheap milk, which made their overall situation “clearly unsustainable in the long term”.
He said it was a “commercial injustice” that you could go into a supermarket and pay around $1 for a litre of milk, and yet be charged twice as much for a litre of water.
“It seems to make no sense at all.
“If we value the presence of this industry in areas outside Victoria, then the long term sustainability of the dairy industry and, in particular, the marketing phenomenon of dollar milk needs to be addressed.”
In more general commentary on the drought, Mr Hartsuyker praised a range of local efforts in support of drought-hit farmers, including the recent Macleay Valley Hay Run organised by Josh and Shelly Ball, as well as fund-raising by the Park Beach Bowls Club, the Nambucca RSL and the Pier Hotel.