Government & Opposition must embrace the recommendations of the NSW Parliamentary Committee into Dairy

Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan said that the advocacy body welcomed the 4 findings and 10 recommendations released this week from the NSW Upper House Inquiry into the sustainability of the State’s dairy industry.

The Government and Opposition must commit to their full implementation to ensure that the sustainability of the NSW dairy industry is assured. With a State election in March 2019, Dairy Connect will be seeking commitments for the implementation of the recommendations prior to the State election.

“We must ensure the NSW dairy industry’s survival for future generations of consumers and dairy farmers in NSW, ensuring access to fresh nutritious milk produced in NSW”, Shaughn Morgan said.

“Dairy Connect strongly supports the balance of the recommendations arising from this year’s inquiry,” he said.

“These recommendations included that the NSW Government work with retailers to ensure that the retail price of milk takes account of the on-going increases in production costs and to ensure that a levy is returned to farmers.

Dairy Connect continues to support the current Woolworths levy that has attached to 2L and 3L homebrand milk, with the producers receiving the proceeds of this levy through their processor, Parmalat.

This must continue well past the cut off date that has been announced by retailers. As the report illustrates, the State Government has a role to play to ensure that a form of levy is retained, with the proceeds flowing directly to the producer.

“Energy costs remain high, fodder costs continues to increase and the cost of production remains above the farm-gate price. A levy paid directly to producers has been proven to have been of assistance in the current times of need.” Shaughn said.

“Dairy Connect has been steadfast in its support for a Federal Mandatory Code of Conduct in the industry. The review this week described the need for such a compulsory code as ‘urgent’.

The appointment of a NSW Commissioner for Dairy, in conjunction with the introduction of a Federal Mandatory Dairy Code, will assist in the restoration of trust, balance and transparency that is required within the dairy industry.

“A NSW Commissioner for Dairy to act as an arbiter and advisor to the dairy industry on their rights and responsibilities in commercial relationships. The Commissioner can also provide regular reports to the Government and Parliament on the state of the NSW dairy industry”, said Shaughn.

“Dairy producers also needed to be able to collectively bargain with milk processors to ensure milk is not being sold at a price lower than the cost of farm-gate production.

“Finally, the on-going need for higher levels of funding for R&D programs was critical.”

Dairy Connect will also continue to lobby the Parliament and Government for a NSW consumer-focused ‘dairy mark’ logo.

Such a dairy mark would underscore the provenance and market-leading nutritional standard of dairy products produced in NSW, thus allowing the consumer to know that their nutritious milk has a strong NSW connection.

“Years of experience in retail and wholesale underscores the value of a visual device such as a logo and a powerful set of consumer words including the three-letter - acronym ‘NSW’.”

The report and its recommendations are now with the Government for consideration and the Government is to respond to the recommendations by 28 February 2019.