Australian dairy farmers to receive €357m in support

Struggling dairy farmers in Australia are to receive immediate assistance from the government there in the form of a AU$555m (€357m) aid package.

The package will be in the form of dairy recovery concessional loans, Barnaby Joyce, Deputy Prime Minister and Minster for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce has said.

“The coalition will be making immediately available AU$55m in dairy recovery concessional loans for Murray Goulburn and Fonterra supplies this year, as well as access to AU$500m in concessional loans over 2016-17 and 2017-18 years.

“The recovery loans will be for a term of 10 years and will be funded by expanding the drought concessional loan scheme to include dairy-specific criteria.”

Joyce said that the government would be allocating AU$900,000 to Rural Financial Counselling Services in dairy production areas to ensure farmers receive the the farm business financial advice needed.

The news comes following an announcement from state of Victoria that it would allocate a AU$1.5m mental health wellbeing package to ensure dairy farmers and their families experiencing emotional and financial stress get the support they need to help them get through these challenging times.

The mental health wellbeing package for dairy farmers includes extra counselling services, mental health first aid training, support for community events and a AU$100,000 boost towards the Look Over the Farm Gate program.

This week, Australian dairy farmers held protests against the low milk prices in Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane.

Farmers, cows and trucks took to the streets of the three big Australian cities to highlight how challenging times are for them.

The protests came following the announcement several weeks ago that Australian dairy Murray Goulburn had paid its 2,500 supplier farmers too much for milk over the past 10 months.

It has been estimated that this overpayment is in the region of €125m and the co-op has said that suppliers will have to pay this back.

MG said that it will manage this via adjustments to the milk payments over the next three years by introducing a Milk Supply Support Package (MSSP).

The co-op had continued to hold its milk price up, despite the challenging global prices ahead of the overpayment announcement.

In the aftermath of the MG announcement, Fonterra Australia, which had previously forecast a milk price of $3.90/kgms (19.30c/L) was forced to match MG’s price of $5.60/kgms (27.69c/L) which AHDB Dairy has said was to satisfy benchmark obligations.

Fonterra Australia is now offering loans to its milk suppliers in order to bump up the price they’re being paid for milk.