Decision Maker Response

Barnaby Joyce’s response

May 19, 2016 — I have closely monitored developments following the Murray Goulburn and Fonterra decisions to reduce farm gate milk prices for the 2015-16 season and since that time have had a number of discussions with farmers, industry leaders, processors and retailers.

I have appreciated the opportunity to meet with dairy farmers and industry representatives this week while in Victoria to hear firsthand their concerns and reassure them of the Coalition’s support.

The Coalition Government values the contribution Australia’s dairy farmers make to our communities, underpinning regional economies and supplying high quality food products. They deserve all our support.

It is clear that farmers acknowledge the work the Coalition has done to support them in recent weeks. A number of new ideas have been presented to me outlining what more we might be able to do.

Dairy farmers I’ve met have asked me to look at a range of options including concessional loans, additional rural financial counselling support and a fast-tracked Farm Household Allowance assessment process.

With over half of Australia’s 6,100 dairy farmers directly impacted by Murray Goulburn and Fonterra’s decisions it is clear that this will have a significant impact not only on their suppliers, but also on the confidence of dairy farmers supplying other processors.

Caretaker provisions prevent me from acting unilaterally and therefore I am unable to announce further support measures at this time. It is my intention to consult with the Opposition on the support package within days. I ask my Opposition counterpart to work quickly with me in a bipartisan way to finalise the support package.

In the meantime, assistance programmes are already in place to support dairy farmers including the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) and the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS).

The ACCC and the ASIC continue to review the matter.