Words by Nathan Robertson
Good MOO’ve by human tomato and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, who today announced a relief package that will ensure milk stays on the table and dairy farmers stay afloat. The Coalition has pledged a $555 million loan scheme to ease the burden of the dairy crisis that has hit farmers in Victoria and Tasmania.
Dairy farmers were devastated over the last few weeks when the two major dairy processors radically cut milk payments, leaving them at a financial loss and in a growing mountain of debt.
Up until recently farmers were paid $5.60 to produce a kilogram of milk solid that costs $5.00 for them to make – but three weeks ago dairy processor Murray Goulburn reduced their purchase price to between $4.75 and $5.00, followed by Fontera who slashed their purchase price to $5.00. This move meant that dairy farmers wallets are bone dry, making a loss when producing milk.
The much needed cash injection will be available to farmers affected by the crisis at a discounted interest rate; helping limit the impact of increased debt. However, there is concern that although the discounted loans will provide a short-term fix, a debt must always be repaid causing further headache for farmers down the line.
The relief package has received bipartisan support with Labor spokesperson Joel Fitzgibbon endorsing the proposal and highlighting that more still needs to be done, suggesting Murray Goulburn shareholders should sacrifice dividends to help out Aussie farmers.
“They are not going to miss out on a meal or have the bank move in because they forego a dividend for a couple of years. That same amount of money can make the world of difference,” he said.
Dairy farmers have received widespread support from the Australian public with Gold Logie winner and absolute badass Waleed Aly, making his ‘greatest call to arms’ on The Project, rallying viewers to pay a little more and buy Australian branded milk and cheese.
So next time you are at the supermarket looking to buy some milk for your milo, or some cheese to make a sanga, think about buying Australian branded products and support local dairy farmers, who are battling for their economic survival.