Levy benefits trickle in

By Dairy News

THE BENEFITS of Australia’s 10-cent milk levy are starting to drip through to Queensland dairy farmers, but it isn’t providing the flow of relief cash that farmers wanted.

The Queensland Dairy Organisation is continuing to argue the 10-cent levy should apply to all milk to help farmers affected by drought and high commodity prices.

QDO president Brian Tessman said the levy was appreciated but wasn’t giving blanket coverage.

“We wanted 10 cents on 100 per cent of milk and we’re still campaigning for that,” Mr Tessman said.

“If that happened there wouldn’t have been any of this nervousness in the shops and there would be a lot more coming back to farmers.

“At the moment what farmers get varies between 1.5 and four cents because it only applies to some lines. We want it on everything.”

Mr Tessman said all Queensland farmers were getting some support, but from slightly different paths.

Parmalat suppliers receive 10 cents for milk used for Woolworths drought relief milk, but not for the Pauls brand.

Farmers are being offered a minimum $1000 a month with additional cash to be distributed per litre.

Norco and Dairy Farmers have added a levy on their branded products.

Mr Tessman said farmers had to apply to a Coles fund and a committee would decide how it was distributed.

“Who knows who gets it? It would be so much simpler to just send it back to the farmers through the processors,” he said.

“It is a positive but it could have been so much simpler and so much better.”

Mr Tessman vowed to continue fighting for a blanket 10-cent benefit on all milk.

“We’re not finished with it yet; we’re going to keep campaigning to the government, both federally and locally, and the supermarket chains. It seems ridiculous that they’re being so belligerent with it.”

Mr Tessman said conditions were still tough, despite some rain in south-east Queensland and northern NSW in October.

“Having a bit of green grass is positive but it doesn’t change what you have to buy in for protein and grain,” he said.

Australian Dairy Farmers has voiced its support for the extra 10 cents while cautioning that it must be distributed to all dairy farmers.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has also criticised the handling of the levy, saying the extra money must go to the right farmers.