About 500 farmers have attended a sobering, but peaceful crisis meeting at Tongala to discuss issues holding down milk prices.By Geoff Adams
The dairy industry faces a pessimistic future unless they can get better milk prices, speakers told a public protest meeting at Tongala yesterday.
The meeting was organised by a new farm lobby group which developed spontaneously out of an emotional protest in a Western District town in January.
Dairy farmers say their milk prices are running below their cost of production and fear they will be forced to leave the industry.
The meeting attracted some colorful conservative politicians including National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce, who accused big supermarkets of exploiting dairy farmers and urged the dairy farmers to stick together with other farm commodity groups.
Senator Joyce said milk was now being sold on supermarket shelves at a price less than bottled water.
Ausbuy representative Lynne Wilkinson told farmers the Australian government had negotiated ‘‘free trade’’ agreements with the US which did not benefit Australia for 15 to 20 years, while cheap imported food flooded into Australia.
She said every major food commodity except rice was controlled by foreign interests, including 75 per cent of the country’s dairy brands.
She said Free Trade Agreements were not free nor in Australia’s interest if it meant growers and processors were competing against foreign government subsidised products.
Most of the crowd had to stand up as seating was limited but they waited quietly during the two and a half hour meeting.
Supermarkets are paying suppliers, including dairy farmers, less because they are in a constant push to increase profits, entrepreneur Dick Smith OAM said.
Mr Smith said the obsession with increased growth and profits was not sustainable and would have consequences for Australians’ way of life.
He told the meeting he was shocked Australia had become a net importer of food.
‘‘It’s globalisation gone made and it’s capitalism gone mad,’’ Mr Smith said
Artist Nici Cumpston will hold a free Artist Talk at Shepparton Art Museum tonight, speaking about her body of work based around the Shepparton region.
It’s been a long journey for Tim Roadley but his dream of creating a multi-sport endurance event on the Murray River is now going to be a reality.
It was a big day for Jye McNeil on Sunday, not only celebrating his 19th birthday, but riding a double at the Tatura and Shepparton Racing Club’s meeting, including the big one, the Vraca and Varapodio Italian Plate (1600 m), on the Gerald Egan-trained Jetconi.
Echuca Football Club has signed Joel Magnabosco and Kane Morris for next season.
On Friday Rochester’s St Joseph’s Primary School opened a time capsule which was buried in the 1980s.
Waste collection in Campaspe Shire will change for two weeks during the festive season.
Valley Park Farms' egg production facility is expected to increase production and staff after a $100 000 Victorian Government grant.
Murchison’s Jane Spencer’s first exhibition It Just Dawned On Me will be on show in Shepparton in the first half of next year.
Lisa Milligan has started a new dog grooming business in Heathcote to help fund her Wild ABout Wildlife centre in Kilmore.
Police allege a man attempted to rob a Cobram supermarket today.
Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley says plans are in the works on how to get natural gas to Deniliquin.
New Transport Accident Commission research has revealed why some young country drivers habitually take risks on regional roads.
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Parks Victoria and Country Fire Authority will be performing planned burns in Goomalibee on Monday.
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