More intervention needed in dairy crisis

Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters has congratulated the local community for rallying to support dairy farmers and has called on the Government to do more to intervene in the crisis.


"It's great to see local media, businesses and the community get behind our farmers and dairy industry.

"However, the Liberal National Government has not confronted what caused the crisis and intervened to force a fairer outcome for farmers,” said Ms Chesters.

"Most locals will be shocked to learn that a special clause buried in the Murray Goulburn prospectus gives the dairy processor's special directors the right in ‘abnormal circumstances’ to slash dividends to investors in favour of paying more to farmers.

"It's just wrong that our dairy farmers are forced into crippling debt but company directors and investors continue to earn very healthy profits and dividends.

"Quite frankly this situation is just outrageous.  Labor believes the shareholders of Murray Goulburn need to share the pain,” Ms Chesters said.

Labor's Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon is drawing up his own rescue package, with a different idea to bring some immediate relief to dairy farmers.

Mr Fitzgibbon's says that given the crisis facing our dairy farmers, the company directors of Murray Goulburn should be encouraged to cut dividends. 

"That money could then be handed to dairy farmers in the form of a higher price per litre for their milk," said Mr Fitzgibbon.

Joel Fitzgibbon says it would be a temporary measure to keep farmers going until the global milk price recovers.

Labor has called on Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to go with Mr Fitzgibbon to meet with the board of Murray Goulburn to discuss this plan.

"If Mr Joyce refuses then it demonstrates one thing and one thing only. The Liberals and Nationals only care about shareholders, big business and the top end of town and not about farmers, their communities and regional Australia,” said Ms Chesters.