THE NORCO Co-operative, based in northern NSW and southern Queensland, believes there is a role for co-operatives in the dairy industry, which can help keep dairy prices higher.
Chairman Greg McNamara told a NSW parliamentary inquiry that not so long ago Norco was not seen as a major player in the northern dairy industry.
"However, with the corporatisation of some other processors within the industry which led to them turning their attention away from their dairy farmers in favour of satisfying their shareholders, Norco is now seen as a real alternative and an attractive proposition for many dairy farmers,” Mr McNamara said.
"If Norco was not a major dairy processor in the northern Australian market, the farm gate milk price in our region might not be what it is today,”
Norco has 315 members on 200 farms supplying milk to the co-operative from Kenilworth (Queensland) in the north, west to Toowoomba (Queensland) and along the coastal fringe to Taree and Gloucester (NSW) in the south.
"It is Norco’s view that deregulation of the dairy industry was inevitable and reflective
of the Federal Government moving to a market driven economy,'' Mr McNamara told the committee.
He raised concerns at the level of support from governments in research, development and extension services.
"In recent times, we have seen a reduction in support funding through the Department of Primary Industries, Local Land Services and general industry support of research and development and extension services,” Mr McNamara said.
"While farm gate pricing in non-exceptional circumstances could be considered largely sustainable, cost of production increases over time, do not foster an environment of increased investment or practices on farm to increase efficiencies to offset these increases.
"These organisations play a significant role in the research and the communication of beneficial developments to dairy farmers and the continued decline in funding provides less of an opportunity for industry development and sustainability.''