Act today on dairy Federal ‘trouble shooter’ says Dairy Connect

A Federal Dairy Commissioner with the powers of a royal commissioner could fast-track solutions to the myriad market challenges facing dairy production in Australia.

This was the strong message today from CEO of advocacy group Dairy Connect, Shaughn Morgan.

“Australian dairy is at crisis and needs positive action and the time for reviews and inquiries is over. Now it is time for action,” he said.

“In the run-up to this month’s federal election, appointment of a Federal Dairy Commissioner is urgent as the industry nears crisis point due to market failure.

“The crisis is due to the on-going impacts of drought; dairy herds being culled; skyrocketing energy prices; higher production costs; and unconscionable milk supply agreements.

“The proposed new Mandatory Code of Conduct for the dairy industry is not due to kick-in until 1 July next year.

“Industry issues that need urgent attention could be addressed by a federal commissioner with appropriate legislated powers to make decisions immediately and independently of government.”

Shaughn Morgan said the dairy industry has been subject to numerous inquiries and the publication of reports with recommendations all of which have pointed out the need for urgent dairy structural reform.

“An independent Federal Dairy Commissioner should be empowered to immediately bring about structural change and ensure that the Australian dairy industry, and all that it represents in modern Australia, survives,” he said.

“A Dairy Commissioner could ensure that the commercial activities of value chain stakeholders – including supermarkets and processors – are properly monitored, in particular with respect to milk supply agreements and low prices in the dairy cabinet.

“Market failure has occurred and structural change is required now. Further commissioning of reports will not help battling dairy farmers who are surviving only on a day-to-day basis.

“If concerns are raised in relation to the powers of a Federal Dairy Commissioner, the government could specify a 'sunset clause' to ensure that such powers would lapse after a fixed period of time.

“The time has passed for just talk and ongoing review, now is the time for urgent action. Failure is not an option”, Shaughn concluded.