The SA government has announced $60,000 in immediate funds to support SA dairyfarmers.
Agriculture Minister Leon Bignell, who grew up on a dairy farm in the South East, described the actions of Murray Goulbourn, Fonterra and Lions Drink and Dairy in dropping their farmgate milk price as “completely despicable”.
“We want to soften the blow as much as possible in the immediate term and then work on longer term solutions,” he said.
“This isn’t going to be the last thing the government does.”
The Taking Stock program, also funded by Dairy Australia, will provide “triage”, helping dairyfarmers access financial counselling services as well as mental health support.
Mr Bignell said the funds were in addition to the $500,000 already provided to Rural Business Support’s rural financial counselling service.
SA Dairyfarmers Association president David Basham said the price cuts could impact most producers for the next three or four years.
He said there was a chance this could push people, particularly those under stress already, to leave the industry.
“It’s not what we want to happen, but rather than spend three years bleeding, it might be best to make the decision early,” he said.
SADA is finalising a paper for the federal government and opposition with “ideas rather than fully-fledged policies” of measures that may assist the industry.
Mr Bignell said the government had limitations on what it could do, and called on consumers to help out.
“I’m pleased to see the strong support for the dairy industry on social media,” he said.
With opening prices for next season expected within months, Mr Bignell said consumers could create a market force with their buying patterns that discouraged other producers from following through with lower prices.
Mr Basham said buying branded products, rather than homebrands, would help more money go back to the producers.