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15 April, 2021

Knuth steps up the milk war

MEMBER for Hill, Shane Knuth has once again called for action from the major retailers, milk processors and both sides of politics to protect and ensure the Queensland Dairy Industry is kept alive.

By Peter McCullagh

Over recent years the dairy industry has been ravaged by escalating costs and diminishing returns as some of the major retailers and processors have reduced the cost of milk at the farmgate.

“Back in the year 2000 we had over 1500 dairy farmers, now we are falling below 285 farmers in Queensland and if this current trend continues by the year 2027, we will not have one dairy farmer left in Queensland.” Stated Knuth.

In 2016 Knuth introduced to Queensland parliament a bill to legislate for a ‘Fair Milk Logo’ to indicate that the milk producer was paid a fair price for their milk. Such a logo would provide confidence to the consumer and promote ethical and fair relationships within the industry.

This bill was overturned by both major parties, however the minister of the day did recognise the importance of the proposed ‘Fair Go Milk Logo’ and provided funding for the initial development of the logo.

The launch of the Queensland Dairy Organisation’s (QDO) ‘Fair Go Milk Logo’ was planned for March 2020, however the ACCC had received objections against the introduction of the logo, so it was delayed until October 2020 or early 2021.

“We’ll keep fighting for the farmers, we need greater food security, it’s time to act now, not in five years’ time when we don’t have a dairy farming industry,” Mr Knuth said.

In Cairns this week, Knuth raised concerns about major supermarkets and some processors campaigning against the QDO scheme, which is designed to help customers identify which milk brands pay a fair price per litre to dairy farmers.

“I introduced into the Queensland Parliament a Fair Milk Mark Bill in 2013 and a Fair Milk Logo Bill in 2016 that would identify with a logo the milk brands that are sold in supermarkets, which pay a fair price to dairy farmers - this was rejected by the LNP and Labor at the time,” Mr Knuth said.

“However, the current Agriculture Minister acknowledged that it was a good idea and provided $700,000 to QDO to design and launch the ‘Fair Go Dairy’ logo.

“The Fair Go Dairy logo will reinvigorate the industry. Having this logo on the front of our milk packaging will allow consumers to make an informed decision as to what brand of milk they should buy.

“The ‘Fair Go Dairy’ logo represents a product that is priced fairly for the consumer and also supports a fair price for the farmer at the farmgate.

“This is not a campaign about charging more for milk, this is about informing the consumer allowing them to make a purchasing decision that supports the farmers.”

In March this year, Queensland Dairy Organisation was granted final authorisation for their proposed ‘Fair Go Dairy’ scheme.

Unfortunately the Australian Dairy  Products Federation (ADPF) lodged an application with the Australian Competition Tribunal seeking to set aside the ACCC’s approval of the ‘Fair Go Dairy’ scheme.

The ADPF is an organisation representing some of the largest milk producers in Australia. In Queensland their members include Norco, Lactalis (who own the Pauls brand and Bega (who own the Dairy Farmers brand).

This further delay is a disappointment to QDO and supporters of the new scheme.

“Why is the ADPF so determined to block ‘Fair Go Dairy’ which is aimed at providing transparency to consumers about the origin of the milk they buy and whether farmers are paid a fair price?” Eric Danzi, QDO Executive Officer said.

The KAP have also called for both Labor and the LNP to commit to the proposal for $1.7 million funding over four years to market and advertise the “Fair Go” logo to all Queenslanders.

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