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Milk levy must ensure support for WA dairy farmers

The Nationals WA will support a proposed milk levy to help drought-affected dairy farmers providing funds raised in WA are returned to local producers.

The dairy industry is currently calling for a 10c per litre levy to be introduced with the Federal Government indicating it may support the levy through legislation.

Agriculture spokesperson Colin de Grussa said he wanted to see more detail around the legislation, but was broadly supportive of a levy given the tough season many producers were facing.

“From the South West of WA to Far North Queensland every farmer in Australia is being impacted by the drought in some way,” Mr de Grussa said.

“While we are very fortunate not to be directly affected, the strong demand for feed from WA to drought afflicted States has driven up the cost of hay and grain for WA farmers.”

Mr de Grussa said any levy introduced by the Federal Government must ensure that funds raised by each State were not put into a shared pool but returned to their State of origin.

“This would give some assistance to WA dairy producers who are struggling with increased costs in their supply chain,” he said.

According to WAFarmers, the increased cost for feed translated to an increased production cost of around 5c per litre for farmers.

“Unfortunately, we aren’t seeing this increase in price represented on supermarket shelves or being returned to farmers by the major supermarkets,” Mr de Grussa said.

“While Woolworths and Coles have recently announced drought support campaigns, these are primarily focused on the Eastern States and won’t address the increased cost of doing business for WA farmers.”

Woolworths has announced plans to introduce a “drought-relief” milk range in the Eastern States, while Coles will increase the prices of their 3L home-brand milk across Australia.

The Nationals WA Senate Candidate, Nick Fardell, said he would write to the Federal Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud, to request further detail around the proposed milk levy.

“I support the efforts of the local dairy industry and WAFarmers in seeking a fairer price for their product,” Mr Fardell said.

“I’ll be doing my best to ensure any deal struck in Canberra doesn’t leave WA in the cold.”