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Dairy farmers sold short again with latest package.

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Gavan O'Connor - Dairy Farmers Sold Short Again With Latest Package Thursday, 21 June 2001

Dairy Farmers Sold Short Again With Latest Package Gavan O'Connor - Shadow Minister for Agriculture

Media Statement - 20 June 2001

Many dairy farmers who have seen their income plummet in the wake of dairy deregulation will be denied access to additional assistance promised by the Howard Government, according to Shadow Agriculture Minister, Gavan O'Connor.

"Setting the cut off point for access to additional assistance at 35% market milk effectively cuts out at least 20% of dairy farmers in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia and virtually all dairy farmers in other states," Gavan O'Connor said.

"Many farmers miss out under these guidelines because they heeded advice prior to deregulation to expand and invest in the enterprises, with the result that the percentage of their operation devoted to producing market milk fell below the 35% cut off point. They have been left with high debts, a much-reduced income, and no access to this additional assistance.

In his speech on the additional assistance measures in parliament today Mr O'Connor criticised the Howard Government for failing to develop a cohesive vision and plan to secure the futures of dairy farming families and others in the industry.

Mr O'Connor has also attacked the Howard Government for:

Producing an exit scheme which very few farmers have been able to access. ● Failing to tightly target the Dairy Regional Assistance Program (DRAP) and, in some cases, allowing it to be used as a National Party pork-barrel. ●

Failing to allow dairy farmers to directly access DRAP grants where a project can be shown to result in long-term employment in a dairying area. ●

Failing to support farmers seeking to bargain collectively with processors and manufacturers. ● Failing to ensure that neither suppliers nor consumers are being exploited in the wake of deregulation. ●

Failing to adequately address the concerns of lessors and lessees of dairy farms. ●

Minister Truss has been asleep at the wheel as the impact of dairy deregulation has rolled over large parts of rural Australia.

"This supplementary package acknowledges the failure of the government's initial response to dairy deregulation in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. Mr. Truss has blown his chance.

"The Howard government has failed dairy farmers yet again with this additional package. Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.

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