MORE than half of Victoria’s dairy farmers are still waiting to find out what they will be paid for milk from the start of next month.
But yesterday Bega Cheese and Tatura Milk suppliers were told their opening milk price would be $5 a kilogram of milk solids, down 11 per cent from this season. Bega executive chairman Barry Irvin said the price reflected the market and was responsible.
Australia’s largest processors were tight-lipped about the timing of opening milk prices when asked on Monday by The Weekly Times.
A Murray Goulburn spokeswoman said it would make an announcement on opening price before the end of June, “in line with our usual practice”.
A Fonterra Australia spokeswoman said it was still working towards finalising an opening price.
Both processors cut milk farmgate prices this season and offered loans to suppliers.
After a dramatic few months for the industry, which followed a dry season for many, dairy farmers want to be able to plan for the coming season, but many say they are hamstrung when it comes to making final decisions without knowledge of an opening price.
Australian Dairy Farmers acting president David Basham said “it is extremely disappointing that scant few processors have made opening price announcements to date”.
“Farmers are already facing a very challenging season. Processors should be doing what they can to provide certainty and support during these unprecedented circumstances,” he said.
Mr Basham said it was vital for farmers to be able to properly budget and plan ahead.
Australian Consolidated Milk announced an opening milk price of $5.30 a kilogram of milk solids last week. Warrnambool Cheese and Butter was first to announce an opening price on June 10, with $4.80/kg for next season.
Meanwhile, the Greens have proposed legislation to temporarily prevent retrospective price cuts in the MG and Fonterra contracts for this season.
Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale wants the next government to commission an independent review into risk allocation in the dairy industry between supermarkets, processors and farmers.