MURRAY Goulburn has been urged to spell out its next steps to its suppliers as the dairy industry begins the process of recovery from the current crisis.
That was the message after today’s meeting between Murray Goulburn representatives, including chairman Philip Tracy, and the Federal Government.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce met with MG in Canberra in a closed-door meeting this afternoon, fulfilling a promise from the recent election campaign.
Facing questions: PM Malcolm Turnbull and Deputy PM and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce meet with Murray Goulburn representatives Philip Tracy (chairman), Kenneth Jones (deputy chair), David Mallinson (interim chief executive) and Natalie Akers (board member) at Parliament House in Canberra today.
Mr Turnbull and Mr Joyce did not face media afterwards. Mr Joyce instead issued a statement.
“Australia’s dairy farmers deserve fair returns at the farm gate, as well as transparency in milk price arrangements and supply contracts,” Mr Joyce said.
“It is important Murray Goulburn can explain to their suppliers what steps they will take to support farmers and restore confidence to the dairy sector.
“There can only be strong and profitable dairy processors if we have strong and profitable dairy farmers.”
It’s understood Mr Joyce and Mr Turnbull sought an explanation of the events leading up to MG’s price cut in April, and decision to clawback money from suppliers.
The pair will next week meet with Fonterra, which cut its milk price after MG, before Mr Joyce hosts a dairy symposium in Melbourne on August 25.
Mr Joyce said these meetings, as well as the outcomes of investigations by ASIC and ACCC would inform any further government response.
Labor’s agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon has repeatedly called on the Government to pressure MG to send more cash back to farmers by deviating from the co-operative’s profit-sharing mechanism, while the Greens have called for legislation to prevent retrospective price cuts.
Meanwhile, Mr Joyce said he would ask the Victorian Government to speed up its processing of dairy concessional loans, after it was revealed just one application had been approved so far. Another 48 are still being processed.