PEOPLE are showing their support for WA dairy farmers by posting images online of low-stocked milk shelves in supermarkets.
WAFarmers Dairy Council president Phil Depiazzi said public reaction to the farming milk crisis was gathering momentum.
“People are calling the council to ask what they can do to help local dairy farmers,” he said.
“But it’s the guys on the east coast who are really doing it tough.
“People can help by buying branded milks because supermarket-own labels hurt everyone involved in the production chain,” he said.
Victoria-based dairy giants Murray Goulburn and Fonterra last week slashed the price of milk solids from $5.60/kg to between $4.75 and $5.
The dollar squeeze left dairy farmers out-of-pocket as milk prices plummeted below the cost of production.
Mr Depiazzi said the price fall added to the load of many dairy farmers already struggling to survive.
“The ‘totally un-Australian’ announcement made by Coles on Australia Day 2011 that milk would be sold for $1/L, matched by Woolworth, has cost the WA dairy industry supply chain $25m annually,” he said.
“This was the conclusion drawn by an independent report (WAFarmers Dairy Council) had compiled by Ag consultant Steve Hossen.”
Mr Depiazzi said five years on the amount equated to more than $100m lost to the supply chain, with $1/L an unsustainable price for processors, farmers and small retailers.
“Understandably people were tempted to pay less when milk prices fell in 2011, but this time people are more concerned about the impact on dairy farmers,” he said.
The Dardanup farmer said the best way to help dairy farmers was to buy milk brands.
“Consumers can make a difference by ensuring they make a conscious decision to buy branded products, this will ensure more money goes back into the supply chain,” he said.
Supporters behind a Facebook group called Dairy Farmers Need Your Help Please have grown their membership to more than 53,000 and in recent days has made many posts on the current milk crisis.
In one post, a Queensland dairy farmer asked readers to boycott all supermarket brands.
“The best thing you can do is buy branded milk from local small shops and smaller independent supermarkets and keep telling the big two supermarkets that you don’t want ‘home brand’ anything,” she said.
Guildford-based WAFarmers chief executive Stephen Brown has called for customers to buy more dairy products to counteract the oversupply of milk and protect the livelihoods of dairy farmers.
“While the WA dairy industry has not been hit as hard as the eastern states by these issues, there are some local dairy farmers whose livelihoods have been threatened by this crisis and other factors,” he said.
He said buying an extra carton or two of fresh milk, yogurt and other dairy products could ease the pressure on dairy farmers.
“While many consumers would prefer to buy local at this time, we encourage the purchase of any brand of fresh milk at this time in Western Australia as 93 per cent of milk sold in WA is produced here,” he said.
Australians consume an average 105 litres of milk per person per year, but that amount is not enough according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Data shows dairy is the second-most lacking food group in the Australian diet after vegetables.
Dairy Australia suggests putting more dairy in a balanced diet, starting on World Milk Day (Wednesday, June 1).
WA Milk Brands
WA Farmers First