OPINION: Dairy decline cause for concern

Raelene HallMidwest Times
Harvey dairy farmer, Dale Hanks in 2016 with dairy cows.
Camera IconHarvey dairy farmer, Dale Hanks in 2016 with dairy cows. Credit: The West Australian

For some time now I’ve been reading and seeing stories about the dairy industry in WA, and the majority are not good news stories.

Many dairy farmers are selling their cattle and leaving the industry.

Others battle to survive, with the continual rise in costs not being matched by increases in what they are paid for their milk.

I, like many others in WA, I’m sure, read them with a sense of frustration, anger and helplessness.

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When there is a disaster like a flood or fire, it’s not hard to find a way to help out.

In times of drought, too, people find a way to assist, as we saw on Australia Day, with the hay run to our area and others.

My frustration arises from not having any idea of ways to help the dairy farmers, or even if there is a way.

Apart from voting with our dollars at the shops by buying only WA-branded milk instead of opting for the cheapest, what else can we do?

There is a lot of dairy industry history that I am not familiar with, but it seems the idea of a co-operative has been tried and failed.

If processors pay dairies less or near to the cost of production of milk, then it would seem obvious that dairy farmers will eventually go out of business.

But of what benefit is this to processors, as without dairy farmers, surely that means there won’t be any milk to process? I’ve discussed this on Twitter and Facebook, but so far there don’t seem to be any realistic answers as to what more we, the general public, can do to assist our dairy farmers.

Is this a case where some sort of government intervention should take place to ensure dairy farmers are getting a fair price for their milk?

If so, then should every farmer be able to expect the Government to ensure they receive a fair price for any products they sell?

It’s an option that doesn’t seem realistic or at all likely.

Maybe there is a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes by industry bodies and the like to support dairy farmers and lobby for them.

I certainly hope so.

I’d still like to be able to do more, though.

After all, I don’t fancy drinking milk imported from interstate or overseas in years to come.

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