VICTORIAN dairy farmers have continued to buck tradition and vote with their milk by moving processors and chasing a better farmgate milk price.
This year 17 per cent of dairy farmers polled as part of Dairy Australia’s National Dairy Farmer Survey, released today as part of the Situation and Outlook report, switched their milk to another processor. This was most common in South Australia at 25 per cent, northern Victoria at 23 per cent and western Victoria at 22 per cent.
The year before 11 per cent of the 800 surveyed had changed processors. The last survey was the first time farmers were asked if they wanted to change processor and 17 per cent said they wanted to. It was the first survey after the late season farmgate milk prices cuts that shocked the industry two years ago. The same farmers were not surveyed each year.
This year 14 per cent of farmers said they wanted to change processor and this was particularly evident in northern Victoria and NSW, according to the report.
The upward trend of moving processors was most common across all Victorian regions and then “to a lesser degree” in Tasmania and larger herds.
“The actual number that do change historically has been between 5 and 7 per cent and now two years in a row it has been over 10 per cent,” Dairy Australia analyst John Droppert said. “The situation has been a seismic shift. There’s no longer having a co-op, also trust, confidence and loyalty. “There has been a change from the historical co-operative football team set-up to a more transactional year-to-year approach.”
The survey found more farmers were happy and stable in their current position, 32 per cent, compared to a year ago at 23 per cent.
For the past four years there has also been an increase in the number of farmers planning to leave the industry. In 2014 10 per cent were making plans to leave, and this has now doubled. West Victorian dairy farmers lead the exit charge, with 28 per cent planning to leave the industry in the next year.
By: SIMONE SMITH
Source: The Weekly Times