A new online Milk Price Index will give dairy farmers better information to help them interpret commodity market signals.
Farmers will now be able to log on at any time and see commodity prices received by Australian dairy processors for cheese, butter, skim milk powder and whole milk powder exports.
The index would also include one-year forecast of prices, updated each quarter.
The Milk Price Index, an election commitment of the Turnbull Government, would provide independent and transparent market information to dairy farmers.
In launching the website, Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the system would improve as farmers become involved.
“Once farmers begin providing prices via an online form, an index of actual prices received in each of the eight dairy regions will be built,” the minister said.
“The more dairy farmers take part, the better this index will be.”
If this helps our farmers it must be embraced because for too long their hard work and commitment to producing the best fresh milk has been under-rewarded.
The fate of dairy farming families has been on the national agenda since the introduction of $1-a-litre milk by Coles and Woolworths in 2011 and then the unprecedented cutting the farm gate milk price by Murray Goulburn in 2016 to below the cost of production.
Dairy Australia figures show Victorian farmers typically received 38 cents a litre for their milk in 2016-17, ($5.04/kg for milk solids).
With $1-a-litre milk keeping processor margins at a minimum there is little room for growth. Outgoing NSW Farmers president Derek Schoen said it would be the key issue facing the industry in coming years and urged processors to stand up to the supermarkets.
Mr Schoen warned of a future where all fresh milk produced in Australia would be exported if processors cannot pay their suppliers a fair price for their premium product.
The Murray region is among Australia’s most productive dairy regions, producing more than 20 per cent of the national milk output, and our farmers are also among the most efficient in the country.
Imagine if our premium fresh milk is sold for $9 a litre in Asia while we are left to drink inferior powered milk, as the astute farming leader forecast as a possible future reality.