| 03.09,18. 03:47 PM |
Dairy industry group calls for drought milk levy of 10 cents a litre that would flow back to farmers
Photo: Consumers are being asked if they would support a 10-cents-a-litre rise in milk prices. (ABC Rural: Brett Worthington)
A dairy industry lobby group is asking consumers to pay an extra 10 cents a litre for milk to help support drought-stricken farmers.
The Queensland Dairy Organisation (QDO) has launched a national campaign asking people to sign an online petition urging supermarkets to increase the price of milk.
It also called for processors like Parmalat, Norco and Lion to guarantee the full levy would be returned to farmers.
QDO president Brian Tessmann said the money would go back to dairy farmers in the region where the milk came from.
"It wouldn't amount to 10 cents back at the farm gate, but it would be closer to six to seven cents back at a farm gate price," he told ABC Radio Brisbane's Craig Zonca and Rebecca Levingston.
"The critical issue though is that the retailers and the processors need to agree to put this on and then guarantee that it goes back to the farmers and not just a cut of it."
Drought adds additional pressure
Mr Tessmann said the cost to dairy farmers due to the drought "had gone up enormously".
"It's the farmers that have suffered with the drought and we've been locked into $1 a litre as an anchor of the price since 2011," he said.
"Farmers are really suffering and there are guys who have come to the end of their tether and have basically said 'someone please come and take my cows'.
"Some farmers had a limit where if grain became $400 a tonne, they would pull the pin and that price is way over that now.
"It's a do-or-die situation for farmers; we either get help from this levy or they go out of business."
He said discussions about the possible levy had begun with major supermarkets and processors, but there were many views on the petition.
"Some of the other states have different views but they are all supportive.
"Particularly farmers in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia who really rely on the domestic market are supportive.
"What we need is the consumers to support the retailers and we want the consumers to tell them that they want local dairy."
Who will make the final decision?
Mr Tessmann said farmers would be happy to have government involvement, but they would also need an arrangement between processors and retailers.
"Otherwise the way the market is, it clearly shows that the market doesn't work, because there's so much increase in costs yet the milk prices at the shop stays the same," he said.
"We need a mechanism where the farmers can get some money back so they can stay in business, and 10 cents a litre won't pull everyone out, but it's a step in the right direction."
'If the milk's not there, people can't buy their coffee'
Dairy farmer Greg Dennis from Scenic Rim Milk said he was supportive of the move.
"Our power bill last month was $11,000, as that's what happens when you have to keep irrigating as there's no rain from above," he said.
"We are starting to see a social conscience developing around farmers and where their milk comes from."