Last week Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien and former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce made a public declaration against Coles and Woolworths, with O’Brien stating, “Look after our dairy farmers, and if you don’t we’re coming after you.”
The statement was made to put consumer outrage at Woolworths and Coles charging shoppers 15 cents for reusable shopping bags into perspective by comparing it to $1 milk. While it does seem ridiculous to pay 15c for a bit of plastic compared to $1/litre for a natural product such as milk, we need to ask what real meaningful plans are being pulled together by the parties to save our dairy industry.
Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation has been pushing both state and federal governments to take a stand against the duopoly since they first introduced $1/litre pricing in 2011.
While we held out some hope when the ACCC inquiry into the dairy industry was first announced, we have found neither side of the political fence making a concerted effort to affect the situation since the final ACCC report claimed that farmers were in such a weak bargaining position in the supply chain, forcing the supermarkets to increase the price of their private label product would not necessarily see that flow back to farm gate.
So while we are right behind the sentiment in Llew O’Brian’s recent speech, what we need is for both sides of politics to work together on a real and tangible plan to make the domestic milk market function properly and get a real outcome for the dairy industry.
As one QDO member pointed out on Facebook when the story ran, it was a nice to see that consumers want to support our farmers, but they don’t know how. This is a sentiment that we’ve seen in recent secret shopper research that QDO has been conducting.
So, QDO is also looking at ways that bypass the supply chain politics and use the might of the consumer to influence change. We have several campaigns in the pipeline to do this.
We are aware that no one tactic is going to be the silver bullet, but we are hopeful that consumers will tell our politicians and the supermarkets through their purchases that they truly support the local Queensland dairy industry and want to see it survive for future generations.
By: Brian Tessmann, QDO president
Source: North Queensland Register