The Economic Development Minister, Michael Aird, must ensure his department responds quickly if any dairy farmers, or group of them, seek advice or assistance to establish a boutique whole milk processing plant of their own.

This issue is particularly relevant in the South, where dairy farmers have no choice but to supply their milk to National Foods.

This gives National Foods a stranglehold over those farmers when it comes to milk price negotiations.

With no one else to take their milk, these farmers currently have no-where else to go.

I believe the option of a southern farmer-owned whole milk processing plant could be worthy of further investigation.

With two independent Northern suppliers already in the whole milk market, the notion of a southern farmers being able to supply a local “fair trade” whole milk brand could be a real option.

The Leader of the State Opposition, Will Hodgman, and I met with several southern-based suppliers of National Foods late last week.

It is important the Economic Development Minister responds swiftly if dairy farmers seek assistance to progress consideration of their own milk pasteurization plant.

It is through such initiatives as this that farmers can seek to become price makers rather than price takers, and protect themselves from multinational companies that seek to abuse their market dominance.

I think this is an idea worthy of pursuit and the government should stand ready to provide appropriate assistance if it is sought.
Rene Hidding MP Shadow Minister for Primary Industries and Water