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UDV calls on governments for better agricultural policy

Galvanising the dairy industry through a raft of policy changes must be a high priority for political parties in the lead-up to the September 14 Federal Election, says the UDV.

February 11, 2013 4:05am

Galvanising the dairy industry through a raft of policy changes must be a high priority for political parties in the lead-up to the September 14 Federal Election, says the UDV.

UDV president Kerry Callow said a number of political decisions needed to be made to improve the efficiency and productivity of such a valuable industry.

‘‘The dairy industry is Victoria’s largest rural industry, producing close to $2.5billion dollars of raw produce a year, and it must be supported,’’ Ms Callow said.

Dumping the raft of carbon and renewable energy charges that account for up to 30 per cent of farmers’ electricity would benefit dairy farmers across the region.

She said independent research showed the carbon tax would cost Australia’s 7000 dairy farmers an extra $170.3million in charges in its first year.

‘‘Skyrocketing energy costs are crippling dairy farmers. The carbon tax is estimated to be costing farmers about half a cent a litre.’’

Farmers faced with falling income and rising input costs would benefit from changes to existing workplace relations structures, Ms Callow said.

‘‘Under the current system part-time and casual workers are given three hours pay even if they have only worked for an hour; it’s not economically viable for some farmers,’’ Ms Callow said.

‘‘We want to see the minimum pay entitlement reduced from three to two hours.’’

Ms Callow said changes to immigration laws to allow a higher skill base to enter the country would improve overall productivity.

‘‘Overseas, skilled citizens living and working on dairy farms in Australia are facing problems applying for permanent citizenship. We need to simplify the process.’’

Policy in the lead up to the Federal Election must focus on wrestling control away from the supermarkets, Ms Callow said.

‘‘The power wielded by big supermarkets is affecting producers across the state.

‘‘A supermarket code of conduct and ombudsman will help address the impact of supermarkets’ pricing decisions.’’

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