As the three dairy farmers whose contracts with Brownes ended at the start of the month face the reality of exiting the industry, WAFarmers and the state’s dairy industry implore the State Government to come to a long term solution to prevent this happening again.

The contracts ended on 1 October, with a mystery processor stepping in the following day and agreeing to collect the milk for a two week period. Despite ongoing negotiations during that time, the processor could not continue to collect the milk, and the three dairy farmers must now face the prospect of drying out, selling or agisting their cows.

WAFarmers Chief Executive Officer Stephen Brown said the organisation had worked collaboratively with government and industry to find a resolution since the announcement of contract cuts in May.

“We have done everything we can to ensure that these farmers stay in contract since Brownes announced their intentions earlier this year,” Mr Brown said.

“From negotiations on a state level with government, industry, processors and other stakeholders, to a processor panel at our annual Dairy Conference and presentations at a national dairy symposium hosted by the Federal Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce, we have taken every possible opportunity to support the farmers and offer potential solutions.”

WAFarmers Dairy Section President Michael Partridge said it was devastating that a solution had not been found.

“Despite the collective efforts of everyone involved, Archer Capital, which owns Brownes, has transferred the risk of balancing supply and managing seasonal variations to individual farmers, rather than communicate their needs with their supplier base,” Mr Partridge said.

“This has created fear in the market place for dairy farmers and this cannot be taken advantage of.

“The most important priority now is the welfare of the farmers and their families, and we urge people to take care of each other during this difficult time, and to seek help if needed.”

Mr Partridge said WAFarmers and the WAFarmers Dairy Section would continue to represent the voice of dairy farmers throughout Western Australia at every opportunity, and advocate for the industry to ensure a viable, profitable and sustainable future.

“There are five additional dairy contracts due to expire in January, which are aligned with Parmalat,” he said.

“Parmalat is a dairy business, so we expect them to behave in a better manner with their suppliers than Archer Capital has with theirs.

“We must now concentrate on securing a long term solution that will not only ensure these farmers stay in contract, but that safeguards the future of the entire WA dairy industry and associated supply contracts for the foreseeable future.”

ENDS.

All media requests must be directed to WAFarmers Media and Communications Officer Melanie Dunn on (08) 9486 2100 or melaniedunn@wafarmers.org.au.