Supplier contract lifeline for dairy farmers

Three south west dairy farmers whose previously extended contracts with Parmalat’s Harvey Fresh were due to expire at the end of June have had these extended by a further six months, until January 2018.

The decision came off the back of an agreement by the three immediately affected suppliers who agreed to reduce their combined annual production over the winter-spring period.

From January, they will be offered new contracts the same as existing suppliers whose contracts are up for renewal at that time, which will align the Harvey Fresh supplier base moving forward.

WAFarmers Dairy Section President Michael Partridge welcomed the announcement, saying it was a sensible decision that would keep many long term and respected producers in the industry.

“Given WA has difficulties in balancing the annual spring flush of milk and also balancing the market in such an isolated state as ours, we consider the agreement to reduce production to be sensible,” he said.

“Parmalat has had discussions with all its producers regarding supply and demand issues and getting this more balanced, as have the other processors.

“WAFarmers and the WAFarmers Dairy Section will continue to concentrate on securing a long term solution that will not only ensure dairy farmers stay in contract, but also safeguards the future of the entire industry and associated supply contracts for the foreseeable future.”

WAFarmers Chief Executive Officer Stephen Brown said the dairy industry looked forward to a roundtable discussion planned for this Thursday with Minister for Agriculture Alannah MacTiernan, which would look at all options available to ensure a sustainable dairy industry in WA.

“The sustainability and viability of the WA dairy industry is dependent on balancing supply and demand, which could include the establishment of a dairy task force, as outlined earlier this year in the WAFarmers State Election Policy Platform, and this roundtable could be a step towards realising this goal,” he said.

“As there are currently only 142 dairy farms in WA, it is a priority to find a solution that safeguards the future of the industry, so we look forward to discussing these options with the new State Government.”