CHOICE membership

Do you buy branded milk from the supermarket to support farmers?


An article regarding upward pressure on farm gate milk prices.

Hopefully it will result in fair prices for diry farmers.


An article regarding the collapsing dairy industry with calls for a minimum retail milk price of $1.50 a litre.

With around 80% of the Australian dairy farms already gone, it may be a case of either $1.50 a litre milk or no fresh milk at all.


It would be great if a lot or significant part of that $1.50 got to the farmers but with my jaded eye on it I am guessing it won’t matter how much you pay that the farm gate isn’t going to see the needed flow of money back to them. If they were Co-op owned production/processing plants eg like NORCO then sure the money would get back but most are not and that money will just make a middle man richer and the farmer will still go broke. What needs to happen is to regulate it such that a farmer is not at the mercy of the processor and that they get a fair portion of the selling price.


Now if we could only get every departing tourist to do this, we could revive the dairy industry.



An article regarding dairy farmers stating that they are not receiving anything from the recent supermarket milk price increases.

Amazing that none of the supermarkets or processors would be interviewed.



The big buyers continue to demonstrate their absolute power daily. They presently hold all the trumps in this game and are not going let go willingly.

There are three ways that this situation ends:

  1. The big buyers voluntarily release the pressure.
  2. Enough dairy farmers go out of business so producers gain some negotiating power and can get a price increase from the buyers. This may work in two different ways, firstly through continued concentration where the remaining large agribusiness gain power in relation to the buyers or secondly, production decreases as land is put to other use and puts supply under pressure.
  3. Some kind of price control is applied to the industry by government.

On past performance 1) looks like little chance and there would have to be huge political pressure for 3) to get up and that is not evident.

We may say that laissez faire capitalism is destroying lives but our behaviour says the price of milk is more important so nothing will change for some time. The situation is often blamed on the middle man not the system. The system has allowed the market concentration that has empowered those middle men.

I suppose that the buying cartel could see option 2) coming and take option 1) to head it off or they could sit tight and 2) will happen eventually. Then instead of complaining about the treatment of farmers we will complain about price rises.


Solution 2 also lends itself to a national dairy herd owned by one or two large corporations. Also to the lease of farm land and use of contract labour to manage each operation. Similar to how contract labour cleans hotels and offices, and big business leases office space. Or like large hotel chains where the physical property and hotel management/brand can have two different owners.

The companies owning the herd could even be the milk processors. The independent contractors would fall outside the industrial relations system, being contractors. Many might even be workers on temporary visas.

The land owners would simply offer a facility and earn according to yield or productivity, while competing against each other for the same tenant. A potential downward spiral where there is an oversupply of property for lease. Likely, considering milk is no longer a local commodity and is readily shipped between states!

Elements of 18th Century English serfdom, with landownership and enterprise the biggest winners?

Agree the end point could be more expensive milk, with the end of farming and farmers (and perhaps in politics the National Party) as we know it?

Not quite time to buy a cow, but a few goats or a sheep or two might be the go. Milk, cheese and meat as required.