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Local dairy industry representatives brief the Federal Government.

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THE HON DR SHARMAN STONE MP Federal Member for Murray Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Thursday 29 January 2009

Local Dairy Industry Representatives Brief the Federal Government

Representatives of the local dairy industry met for several hours yesterday with senior advisers to Tony Burke, the Federal Minister for Agricultural Forestry and Fisheries, to detail the crisis in the dairy industry in Northern Victoria. They included senior representatives from the UDV, Murray Dairy, Dairy Australia, and key locals from across the Murray Electorate.

Dr Sharman Stone, Federal Member for Murray who organised the meeting said that it was crucial that the minister understood that assistance was needed urgently if dairy producers were to survive the price cuts of between thirty and fifty percent.

“The price cuts come on top of the worst drought on record with many significantly in debt and banks nervous about extending their loans. Meanwhile prices of inputs have also gone through the roof,” Dr Stone said.

“Despite differences in the size of the herds, all of the dairy farmers had the same concerns about the immediate impacts of the price drops. Dairy farmers have budgeted on prices that were announced pre-season at around 40c with the expectation that there would be step ups. It is now projected to be in the mid 20s with no step ups anticipated.

“Fodder and other inputs were ordered on the basis of these higher prices. There is now a serious problem with meeting contractual commitments.

“Given the dairy industry employs some 40,000 people, and has a 2.5 multiplier effect on the regional economy, and generates billions in farm gate value, this industry is simply too important to loose,” Dr Stone said.

The advisers were able to take away the details of local production costs and prices, and the level of difficulties and loss of confidence compounded by water security uncertainty, including the State Government’s Melbourne pipeline, the price drops and impacts of the prolonged drought. The advisers will be passing this information on urgently to the Minister.

Sharman Stone will follow up the meeting with the Minister next week.

Media enquiries: Mary Coad ph 0417 148 110.