Dairy farms shrink from 1500 to 430 in 15 years
MEMBER for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien says he understands the plight of dairy farmer in the Gympie region and wants his government to do everything it can to support them.
The Katter Party this week introduced the Sustainable Queensland Dairy Production Bill to the Queensland Parliament in an effort to arrest the continuing decline of the state dairy industry which has seen the number of farms shrink from 1500 to 430 in 15 years.
There are just 37 dairy farms left in the Gympie region.
"I have met with local dairy farmers and understand their plight and the hard times dairy families have endured ever since deregulation in 2000, and made worse by the Coles and Woolies milk price war," Mr O'Brien said.
"When the Coalition Government recently held a high level dairy symposium in Melbourne I ensured that two Gympie dairy farmers (John Cochrane and Martin Wilson) had a place at the table."
Mr O'Brien said National Party Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce had committed to a range of actions to assist the dairy industry and "all of the Coalition's election commitments to the dairy industry have either been delivered or are on track to be delivered".
"I want the Federal Government to do all it can to support farmers, and in my first speech to the Parliament I said that farmers deserve a fair price for their produce and that big business needs to play fair," Mr O'Brien said.
"If big business won't play fair then Government needs to intervene, and I maintain that position.
"The Federal Government's Country of Origin labelling laws will be mandatory, whereas the labelling laws in Queensland's legislation are only voluntary and rely on goodwill.
"The Coalition Government is implementing a range of initiatives to support farmers, including:
An extra $420,000 for Queensland's Rural Financial Counselling Services this year to ensure enough counsellors are available to assist farmers when needed.
$900,000 for Dairy Australia's Tactics for Tight Times program.
$2 million to establish a commodity milk price index.
18 additional Department of Human Services staff trained to process Farm Household Allowance applications more efficiently.
46 farm businesses approved for loans in Qld worth $14.339 million (NSW has only had 32 drought loans approved, and a value of $6.653 million).
206 Queensland farmers have benefited from the Government's Drought Concessional loans, with $123 million in loans paid out.
46 Queensland farmers have benefited from the Drought Recovery Concessional Loans (same terms as the Dairy Recovery loans), with $17.6 million in loans paid out.
$20 million for 14 studies into new water infrastructure projects in Queensland - but the Queensland Government has rejected the offer.