Dairy crisis sees milk imported as WA farmers say: We warned you

AUSTRALIA - Fresh milk is being trucked across the Nullarbor to fill a critical shortage in WA as dairy farmers continue to leave the industry in droves because of poor prices.
calendar icon 28 February 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
National Foods is bringing thousands of litres of milk in tankers across from South Australia to fill export contracts.

The move has angered dairy farmers, who repeatedly warned of shortages unless prices improved.

The Eastern States imports — which are going to a Perth processing plant to fill export contracts for UHT (ultra heat treated) milk — are expected to continue until the end of next month.

Dairy farmers say farm gate prices are well below the cost of production and are fuelling a steady exodus from the industry.

Since deregulation in 2000, the number of dairy farmers in WA has almost halved to just 240.

Average farm gate prices have fallen below 30¢ a litre.

WAFarmers dairy council president Tony Pratico said many farmers had the option to feedlot their cattle over summer to keep milk production going.

However prices had not been enough to cover spiralling feed costs.

“We have the ridiculous situation where — instead of paying a few cents a litre more to dairy farmers — WA processors are paying for tankers to cross the Nullarbor,” Mr Pratico said.

“All this as dairy farmers continue to leave the industry in droves.”

Mr Pratico warned that if the trend continued, it would be just a matter of time before the shelf price of milk reflected the cost of interstate imports rather than the cost of production on WA farms.

Source: The West Australian
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