Gippsland South The Nationals Leongatha Agriculture Dairy

O’Brien: State Government must support dairy industry

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien has raised in Parliament the need for the State Government to support the dairy industry after dramatic price cuts by Murray Goulburn and Fonterra over the past week. 

Mr O’Brien said many farmers in the Gippsland South electorate would be negatively impacted by the reduced returns and called on Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford to prepare resources in her department to tackle the issue. 

“I have spoken to a number of dairy farmers over the last week in my electorate and there are a range of views of farmers, from outraged and angry to depressed, bewildered and uncertain,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Others have talked of getting out but some have been stoic in the face of the difficulty and have indicated that this really is a part of farming and something that they have become used to over the years.”

Mr O’Brien said while this price drop would have a significant impact on areas like Gippsland, it was a commercial decision made by individual companies and there was only so much the State Government could do.

“Without doubt, this is something that will have a severe effect on the dairy industry, not just on MG and Fonterra suppliers and not just on the dairy industry but on the wider Gippsland economy.

"The government needs to be ready with more support for financial counselling and mental health awareness of necessary."

Mr O’Brien is encouraging farmers to look at all of their options and access the services on offer before making any rash decisions.

“The message to farmers is: do not panic. Consider your options. Get the help you need to make sure you do the right thing for you, your family and your business, and talk to and look after your neighbours,” he said.

“It’s been a tough season and dry conditions only exacerbate the price cuts, but I urge farmers to have their situation fully assessed before making a decision.”

Farmers experiencing financial difficulty can access free and confidential financial counselling by phoning the Rural Financial Counselling service in Leongatha on 5662 2566 or Maffra on 5147 0855.

Farmers experiencing financial hardship may also be eligible for the Commonwealth's Farm Household Allowance payment. Additionally, people experiencing difficulties are encouraged to call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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