Dairy farmers from Queensland and New South Wales (NSW) are not taking the sides of either Coles or Woolworths in the two supermarket giants' price war. They instead urged on Sunday the boycott of the two supermarkets' branded milk at the ongoing Ekka, Queensland's largest public event which attracts over 400,000 visitors.
Apart from Australia's agriculture sector, where China has shifted its focus away from commodities iron ore and coal, the world's second-largest economy has decided it wants to have a piece of Australia's dairy sector as well.
The farmers who belong to the Queensland Dairyfarmers' Organisation (QDO) blame the price war for annual losses of members from $30,000 to $40,000. The boycott is the group's way of making city residents become aware of the impact of Coles and Woolies' price war on producers, said QDO Chief Executive Officer Adrian Peake.
To make matters worse for dairy farmers, a Senate report favoured the supermarkets, which dropped the home brand milk prices to $1 a litre. The report said the price reduction was pro-consumer and did not impact badly Australia's dairy sector.
Besides calling for a boycott, the dairy farmers are threatening to hold blockages after price for non-contracted surplus milk plummeted to as low as 13 cents per litre which meant milk farmers are receiving less for their produce compared to 1992. Aside from the price war, the high Australian dollar and three consecutive years of price drops by 10 per cent are being blamed for the continuous drop in milk prices.
NSW Farmers Association Dairy Committee Chairman Paul Timbs warned that they may follow the example set by their British counterparts who dumped their milk in July, refused to deliver to supermarkets and blockade of dairy processing factories.
While the blockade proposal is getting more support, QDO said farmers could not just turn off milk supply because they would hurt themselves more than Coles or Woolies.
"Dairy farmers work 365 days a year. If a farmer wanted to stop supplying they'd have to tip out their milk every day and that's a terrible waste," News.com.au quoted Mr Peake.
However, Mr Timbs pointed out that ate current milk prices paid by the two dairy processing giants in Australia, Parmalat and Lion, would run out of business 10 to 15 per cent of dairy farmers in Queensland and NSW.
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