Dairy crisis: New code could turn Qld produce sour
QUEENSLAND milk will be disappearing from supermarket shelves within a few years unless drastic changes are made to a proposed dairy code of conduct, Queensland farmers warn.
Federal Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie has come under fire for watering down the code, recommended by consumer watchdog the ACCC after its report into the struggling industry.
The code is intended to create a level playing field in negotiations between farmers, producers and retailers.
Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation president Brian Tessmann said the code as it was now written would be worse than doing nothing.
"Within a couple of years the majority of milk in Queensland will be coming in from outside. That's bad for local jobs, but also the environment, food miles and export income," he said.
"The likelihood is that most of what's there on the shelf will be hauled in from the south.
"The industry is in free fall and it will continue."
Mr Tessmann said the proposed code did not address terms of contract which saw farmers locked into five-year deals, but allowed the price of milk to change annually. We're stuck after that. How much bargaining power do you have when you're tied up for five years?" he said.
Exclusivity clauses, which lock farmers into selling to one producer, were also an issue as well as retrospective pricing concerns.
Opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said there needed to be government intervention to assist the dairy industry.
"A Code of Conduct is important, but it won't fix the wide range of problems facing our dairy farmers, including that price cost squeeze."
Senator McKenzie said the draft for the code of conduct was still out for consultation.