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Farmer crisis meeting in Tongala

National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce and Australian food campaigner Dick Smith will lead the speakers list at the Farmer Power Crisis Meeting in Tongala today.

February 13, 2013 4:55am

A meeting to galvanise dairy farmer action is expected to draw up to 600 people in Tongala today.

National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce and Australian food campaigner Dick Smith will lead the speakers list at the Farmer Power Crisis Meeting.

The newly formed lobby group, Farmer Power, is campaigning for a better milk price, preference for Australian-made foods and reviews of government policies.

The meeting follows on from the highly successful meeting held in Western Victoria last month which was attended by about 600 farmers and local business owners with concerns for the future of the Australian dairy industry and the businesses and rural communities that depend on it for their survival.

The northern Victorian group, chaired by Wyuna farmer Nigel Hicks, has organised the meeting for Tongala Shire Hall at 10.30am today.

Mr Hicks yesterday said he hoped people turned out to demonstrate that there were major issues for the dairy industry that needed to be addressed.

Mr Hicks said the issues were connected with industry viability and food security.

“Our first criteria is to get a show of public support that there are issues out there, and try and get some immediate short-term government assistance put in place so that we can survive until we get those issues dealt with,” Mr Hicks said.

“We’re farmers, and one of our key objectives is to get a better milk price, but it’s also to get more Aussie products on the shelves which straight away encompasses food processors and quite a broad cross section of our community.

‘‘We see it as a community issue, not just for farmers but for the people that work in the local rural businesses.

‘‘We want to send a message to industry leaders and governments.

‘‘A lot of us are getting to the point where we’re realising that in 10 years most of us won’t be here.

‘‘I won’t say we’re backed into a corner but I think the determination’s pretty strong to get a result.’’

Farmer Power was formed after a meeting of milk producers in south-west Victoria last month, and has been critical of the established representative groups.

One of the organisation’s goals is to get an independent review of ‘‘structures representing the industry’’.

 

The public meeting will also be addressed by Lynne Wilkinson from Ausbuy, Kyabram businessman and Campaspe Shire councillor Robert Danieli and Campaspe Shire Mayor Ian Maddison.

Mr Hicks said question time would be provided and people from the floor would be able to make short statements.

Tongala Lions Club will provide some food and tea and coffee for purchase, and the meeting is expected to wind up about 1pm.

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