A fundamental shift in attitude from our leaders is absolutely critical if Dairy is to move forward. There is absolutely no point in farmers battling away tweaking the edges to remain in business if they have no support from the people who can make or break them. These people have to have ACCOUNTABILITY. Unfortunately we have a situation where smoke and mirrors have allowed insufficient scrutiny of the legislative, regulatory and political failures which have resulted in a number of key problems. One such issue is the supermarket duopoly. It would seem that an ACCC inquiry in 2001 into supplier-retailer relations showed there was no monopsonistic power even though the inquiry was partial and flawed. This 'flawed' paper was subsequently used in 2004 in a report to the Federal Agricultural Department denying large retailer market power. The introduction of $1 milk in 2011 was enough proof of that power but our leaders failed to fully grasp what this meant across the board. Or, worse still they chose to ignore it. There has been much conjecture surrounding the ACCC's handling of section 46 in the Competition and Consumers Act 2010. This section, along with sections 51 and 52 give farmers and small business's the most formal protection against corporate predation and yet regulatory passivity and judicial conservatism have weakened their effectiveness. This weakening of support and political apathy has eroded morale and confidence amongst those very people who elected them there in the first place.
Herein lies a far bigger problem across Australian society. The ability of its people to choose the best people for the job. Apathetic and uniformed citizens find the political arena uninteresting or non crucial. Statistics show a large portion of the population are disengaged from the political process and outcomes. Facebook and sport are far more enticing. This leads to short sighted policies to win over a public that doesn't understand, or at worst doesn't care. This is where we need some leadership. This is where we need to be educated and allowed to have an opinion. Those that are elected need to have the credentials to step up to the plate, fulfil their role and make a difference.
Fixing the dairy industry goes way beyond the farmer. It encompasses everyone playing their part.
Farmers are doing their jobs, its about time those with the positions of 'elected authority' did theirs.
Mean while in America,
- they monitor nargins across all their dairy states - it can be done.
- the government subsidises a margin insurance program.
- their drinking milk market subsidises their stores product market products (cheese butter powders)
- somehow, their Cooperatives working together program that subsidises exports is ok. http://www.cwt.coop/
Yes, they are losing farmers and farms are getting bigger, but without these measures, it would be worse.
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