Dairy farmers tire of years of lip service, demand action
Southern Downs milk producers say Member for Maranoa David Littleproud's fight with supermarkets for fair pricing is a battle they've been in for years, with little result.
Hit by drought, bushfires and now a global pandemic, Mr Littleproud said supermarkets must increase payments to suffering milk producers.
In March last year, Mr Littleproud negotiated with the supermarkets to break the dollar litre milk nexus they had created through a voluntary 10 cent levy supermarkets put in place.
But Junabee farmer Heath Hoffman said the levy barely covered costs.
"You'd probably say you'd have to be a bit sceptical, I don't want to be negative but they've spoken about it before," he said.
"Farmers are tired of hearing the spiel about milk needing to go up but it never happens so it's eroding their confidence."
The Minister Agriculture wants them to voluntarily extend and review the current 10 cents a litre temporary levy on fresh milk to other milk products like yoghurt.
"I am continuing discussions with the supermarkets and with processors to make sure they know that I expect our dairy farmers to be paid a fair price," he said.
"I have asked supermarkets to work with processors to ensure a fair price gets back to the farm gate."
Queen Mary Falls dairy farmer Jim Watts said the future of the industry was bleak, having watched 500 farmers leave the industry last year.
"I don't think any farmer is making any profit, it's just not sustainable to keep going and the next six months in particular are going to be very interesting," he said.
"We should be getting farm gate price or we won't survive and Mr Littleproud is right, we'll have to import milk."
"The solution we need that will give us consistency and a certain future is farm gate pricing and it's got to be permanent.
"We've got the industry here in Australia and the pandemic has proven it's important to have local staples, we just needs support."