Many dairy farmers are doing it tough in regional Australia.
Many dairy farmers are doing it tough in regional Australia. Craig Warhurst

Waleed Aly's call to arms to save our dairy farmers

WALEED Aly is dead right on milk prices.

If there was ever a time Australians should be standing up for local dairy farmers, it is now.

On The Project, Aly targeted both Murray Goulburn and Fonterra - Australia's largest dairy producer and the world's biggest dairy exporter over their decision to slash the price they pay for farmers' product.

It costs farmers $5.00 to produce a kilogram of milk solid.

Until recently they were paid $5.60 for the product.

Three weeks ago, Murray Goulburn cut their price to between $4.75 and $5.00.

Fonterra followed.

According to Aly, this means farmers will be paid $0.37 per litre of milk when it actually costs them $0.38 to produce it.

But that's not the worst of it.

The new price is being applied retrospectively.

"What that means is that because our farmers have been paid $5.60 all financial year, Murray Goulburn and Fonterra are essentially claiming that the farmers were overpaid from July last year until the price cuts three weeks ago," Aly told viewers.

"And now, the farmers suddenly owe Murray Goulburn and Fonterra massive debts. The average debt reportedly owed to Murray Goulburn by a dairy farmer is $120,000."

Statement from Murray Goulburn in response

Statement from Fronterra

"They're spreading that cut over the entire financial year so doesn't look like such an extreme cut.

"When we recognise that it means that for the next two months, farmers will be paid 14 cents for that litre of milk that cost them 38 cents to make. The more successful they are, the further in debt they'll become."

Would you be prepared to pay more for milk to save farmers?

This poll ended on 25 May 2016.

Current Results

Yes. The local milk is better anyway

82%

No. My budget is already stretched

3%

No. It's up to the big companies to look after them

3%

I would support a milk levy

10%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

The main cause of the cuts is said to be China not wanting as much milk as expected.

Dairy farmer Wayne Johnson spoke of the impact on his family in the segment.

"...the news really hit me when I finally caught up with Marian (his wife) and that evening, and she looked straight at me and said, if it wasn't for me and the children, she'd probably kill herself."

In what is being described as Waleed Aly's 'greatest call to arms', he urged viewers to pay more for their milk for Australian produced, brand name products.

And he says we should all be eating more cheese.

Aly has also questioned where politicians have been on the issue, given the dire circumstances facing the dairy industry.

He said the farmer proposed 50 cent per litre milk levy would save the industry - and cost Australian families less than a dollar a week.

But he says no one is brave enough to do that during an election campaign.

In the meantime, however, our best strategy is to buy the better, locally produced milk, rather than the cheaper supermarket variety.

It might cost us a few more dollars a week, but it could save jobs - and even local farmers' lives.


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