What’s wrong with welfare milk: back to 1992

The public tide of sympathy for dairy farmers has pushed the supermarkets to act again, this time, with “drought relief” milk. It’s the latest incarnation of what DIAA scholar Norman Repacholi rightly calls “welfare milk”.

WelfareMilk.jpg

I cannot tell you how grateful I am to everyone who is pushing the supermarkets to do better. But this just can’t go on.

The so-called “drought relief” of 10 cents will reach few of us but all of us are affected by skyrocketing feed prices and need to pass some costs on. Only, we can’t.

Despite the special $3.30 for 3 litre milk that will be promoted for three months or so, most homebrand milk will remain priced at $1 per litre.

Those are 1992 prices. If milk had kept pace with inflation, it would today sell for $1.80 per litre.

Now, it’s true that fresh white milk sold through supermarkets does not account for a big percentage of the milk produced by most Victorian dairy farms. Some will tap their noses wisely and say that it doesn’t really matter a hell of a lot.

But it does, even to a farm like mine whose milk is turned into infant formula. It matters because it demonstrates perfectly how terribly captive Australian dairy farming is and how much reform is badly needed.

I can’t imagine any other Australian who would put up with all their blood, sweat and tears being discounted to 1992 prices. Yet we do, and that culture permeates the way prices are set for all of our milk.

It’s time to banish the begging bowls and get Australian dairy farming back on its feet.