A call for a 10c levy on each litre of milk to support farmers is being echoed throughout the nation.
The move comes as farmers struggle to make money during one of the worst droughts in recent decades, which is affecting all of NSW.
While “structural reform” happened in the industry, Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud said he was happy to facilitate the levy as a “temporary measure”.
“I support the principle of a temporary levy,” Mr Littleproud said.
“We all know many of our farmers are really struggling right now. The dairy sector in particular is having a tough time.
“Many of our farmers are being paid less than the cost of production. This is unsustainable. If our farmers don't make it through the tough times, they won't be there to supply Australia milk in the future.”
Mr Littleproud said $1 milk prices supermarket shelves had “devalued” milk products, making it cheaper than water.
Woolworths were on board with the levy, as long as other retails were as well, Mr Littleproud said after meeting with the chain.
“Coles is more reluctant but I hope they'll come on board,” he said.
“I intend to speak to ALDI and IGA/Metcash as well.”
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The Department of Agriculture was investigating ways a temporary levy could be implemented, Mr Littleproud said.
“Woolworths and Coles are sensitive to the impact of 10 cents extra per litre of milk on family budgets, and I am too,” he said.
“Consumers need to understand the impact of having few Australian dairy farmers north of the Victorian border would be much greater in the long term.”
Mr Littleproud said consumers held the power.
“All those who are outraged on social media would do more for Aussie farmers by paying a 10 cent levy than they do by sharing a video on Facebook,” he said.
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The ACCC report into the sector, released in May 2018, identified market failure. In response to the report’s findings, the dairy industry will provide Mr Littleproud a code of conduct report by week’s end.
“I asked the dairy sector to come to a united position on a response to the report and a mandatory code of conduct for the dairy industry. This has not happened yet but industry has committed to provide me with a position by the end of the week,” he said.
“I've been Minister eight months and this problem has been around more than 20 years; deregulation began in the 1990s. We've got to start somewhere and get our farmers through this tough period.”