New data has been added to a key tool for dairy farmers that will help them weigh up the price they are getting for their milk.
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New data has been added to the milk value portal, giving dairy farmers a better picture of average prices for their region.(ABC Rural: Sally Dakis)

Key points:
The milk value price portal now has new information
Farmers getting a better deal as regulation kicks in
A third year of record prices fuelled by demand and a softer dollar

The latest data from the 2020–21 year has been added to a portal created by the Australian Dairy Products Federation (ADPF).

The portal doesn’t compare prices, but it does give an indication of what a farmer should be getting, based on their region, farm size and a few other factors.

It looks at the Farmgate Milk Price (FMP) relative to the Australian dollar-based Commodity Milk Value (CMV).

Big price rise
Last year prices were coming in slightly below the CMV, but this year the Southern Region opening prices are more than $1/kg MS or 20 per cent above CMV.

It is a great turnaround for a sector that has been struggling in recent years due to drought, poor global prices and a power imbalance between dairy farmers and large processors.

Grant Crothers, President of the ADPF, concedes it is still not easy to understand milk price contracts, but the portal does allow farmers to see current values and look back over three years of data for different regions.

“It appears we are in a super cycle – a third year of what is likely to deliver record prices for raw milk.”

He said demand from the processing sector for raw milk and a softening of the Australian dollar was encouraging processors to ‘go hard’ at the opening of the season.

Things have improved for farmers over the last year, with processors forced to post their prices in advance at the same time as their competitors, while contracts have also been altered to make it easier for farmers to switch if they are not happy with the deal they were getting.

‘Unbiased report’
For Longwarry dairy farmer John Versteden the milk price portal has helped him to understand what the market is doing.

“It’s an unbiased report. So, if anyone is playing funny buggers in the marketplace, it’s actually a bit of a truth serum for them.”

In the past, dairy farmers would get a letter from their processor indicating what the milk price would be and they could compare with another processor, but he said those offers were often not accurate.

“We all know there are variations of 40-50c a kilo milk solid between farms and that’s a considerable amount of money.”

Nominations are open for Fonterra’s board election but a repeat of the drama that rocked the vote three years ago can be ruled out.

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