DANGEROUS MOOVE: A dispute between Queensland dairy farmers and the largest milk processor in the state over milk prices has been sent to arbitration.
DANGEROUS MOOVE: A dispute between Queensland dairy farmers and the largest milk processor in the state over milk prices has been sent to arbitration. Trevor Veale

Dairies sweat over prices

MORE than 190 dairy farmers in Queensland fear they could lose up to $3 million if a major milk processor drops the price it pays to farmers.

Parmalat, which produces the brand Pauls, was not able to reach a pay agreement with its suppliers from the collective bargaining group Premium before the 2016 contract ended on December 31, and the dispute has been sent to arbitration.

President of the Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation said dairy farmers across the state were hoping for no price drop, and "sweating over it”.

"This could mean as much as $16,000 could be slashed from an average farmer's revenue,” Mr Tessman said.

"This means that the current 190 Parmalat suppliers in Queensland, just under half of all farmers in the state, could be facing a significant undercut to their balance sheets.

The conflict comes six months after Murray Goulburn slashed dairy prices to $4.31, despite the cost of production for a kilogram of milk solids ranging between $5.00 and $5.50.

Mr Tessman said Parmalat's dispute contradicted

the fair practices of other

milk manufacturers in the state.

"This move looks cynical when all other Queensland processors, both major and minor, have maintained or raised farm gate prices for their dairy farmer suppliers,” he said.

"It is difficult to reconcile Parmalat's claim that the recent surge in branded milk sales from the 'I Buy Branded Milk' campaign has not directly benefited its bottom line.”

The Queensland

dairy industry is almost entirely domestic focused, with over 95% of milk produced in Queensland sold as fresh white milk in Queensland.

"It is almost as if Parmalat has rode the wave of public support for its branded product under the guise of supporting local farmers, only to dump its hard-working farmers when it came time to share the profits,” he said.

More than half of the state's dairy farmers are waiting on the outcome of the current negotiations.

This is the first time the group and Parmalat have gone to arbitration in 10 years of negotiating.

"Our industry will continue its calls for fairer and more sustainable domestic milk and dairy market,” Mr Tessman said.

The group of dairy farmers expect the pay dispute to be resolved by March.



FULL LIST: Warwick Magistrates Court appearances for today

Premium Content FULL LIST: Warwick Magistrates Court appearances for today

Here is a list of matters listed at Warwick Magistrates Court

Superspreader poses grave new threat to Fortress Qld

Premium Content Superspreader poses grave new threat to Fortress Qld

The state is facing its biggest challenge since the pandemic lockdown, with fears a...

Visitor number highest in years as region reaps tourism boom

Premium Content Visitor number highest in years as region reaps tourism boom

Warwick sees a 75 per cent increase but providers urge council to implement crucial...