Monday, 08 May 2017 08:07

Future of WA farmers hangs in balance

Written by  Rick Bayne
Michael Partridge Michael Partridge

The future of at least three Western Australian dairy farmers hangs in the balance as negotiations to fix oversupply issues stall.

Meetings held between Parmalat-owned Harvey Fresh and suppliers to discuss potential solutions have yet to find a resolution.

Harvey Fresh will not renew the contracts of three of its suppliers leaving them with nowhere to go. Together, they produce six million to eight million litres of milk annually.

Mr Norton said he hoped “common sense prevails” to help all dairy farmers survive.

He said he understood a proposal had been put to Harvey Fresh suppliers and growers that they forego growth premiums for May and share up to 4 cents a litre of the transport costs for excess milk sent to the eastern states to save those facing contract cancellations.

“They put a proposal to suppliers but we haven’t heard anything,” Mr Norton said. “One of the problems is that there hasn’t been enough communication between the producers and what’s going on in the market place.”

“They wanted 90% of suppliers and 70% of growers signed up and I don’t think they’ll get that sort of support.”

Mr Norton’s contract expires June 30. He was originally told last April it would be terminated on January 7. “We bought two Angus bulls when we were told so we could slowly change to a beef herd. It will take a while but we have a plan.”

The model put in place to solve the oversupply problem isn’t working, Mr Norton said.

“Part of the problem is that farmers who’ve had their contracts terminated have sold their cows to other dairy farmers. They were terminating contracts to try to cut production but the cows have gone in other herds so production hasn’t come down.

“The easiest way would be for all farmers to cull a few cows, cut production a bit and take an 8-9% cut, but it’s hard to tell a farmer to take a cut.”

Five Harvey Fresh suppliers were part of the initial group told their contracts wouldn’t be renewed; one sold his herd, the other leased his farm.

Mr Norton said he believed five other farmers had been notified they won’t be picked up as they come out of contract.

WAFarmers dairy section president Michael Partridge said he hoped for a long-term resolution and that no more farmers would be forced out of the industry. He would not elaborate until further meetings are held to try to resolve the issue.

Harvey Fresh did not respond to calls for comment.

The state’s dairy farmers are producing about 17 million litres more than the market needs.

More like this

Moving from Bega to Gippsland to pursue dream

A fierce desire to grow their equity, and the unpredictability of the Bega seasons, has seen Tom and Gemma Otton take up a share farming role with Peter and Jeanette Clark at Kongwak.

Are your milking practices "normal"?

Recent milking time visits to a number of different dairy sheds have reminded me that “normal” means different things to different people.

Shelter leads to more pasture, more cows

Panmure dairy farmer Simon Rea has lifted herd size from 400 to 540 head and is growing 10% more pasture due to the cow shelter installed on his Panmure farm three years ago.

More from this category

National Foods closes cheese sites

National Foods will sell its cheese processing plants in South Australia and close its two Victorian plants within three years.  The moves were announced as part of a $132 million investment in Tasmania, aimed at rationalising the company’s cheese making business.

NZ payout drop delivers a 'sobering blow'

NEW ZEALAND dairy farmers will be forced to make more hard decisions in the season ahead, as the country’s processors slash their forecast farm gate milk prices to well below the cost of production.

Milk processors want you

International demand and expansion in local processing facilities has fuelled renewed competition between Australian processors for southern milk supply.

Scramble for precious water in WA

SOME 2200 megalitres of water might seem only a drop in the ocean for flood weary farmers in northern and eastern Australia but in the drought-stricken west every bit of a new allocation will be precious.

Progression plan a work in progress

Unfortunately, many families can't broach the topic of succession planning at the kitchen table, so it was refreshing to hear WA farmer Peter Evans discussing his family's approach in front of 200 people.

Floods bring New Year chaos to northern dairy industry

THE QUEENSLAND dairy industry is starting 2011 in chaos, swamped by New Year floods engulfing the State.The big wet which drenched Central Queensland in December moved to the southeast corner of the State with devastating impact in the second week of January.

PRIME MINISTER Julia Gillard is deliberately misleading Australians by claiming she wants to keep the Murray-Darling reform process on time, according to Coalition Murray-Darling Basin spokesman Senator Simon Birmingham.


MURRAY GOULBURN has taken up all of its rights in takeover target Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory’s (WCBF) $48 million entitlement offer.


THE HEAD of one of the world’s largest dairy cooperative wants the industry to do more to promote the goodness of dairy.

MURRAY GOULBURN has increased its prices by 35c/kg for protein and 14c/kg for butterfat – or $5.25/kg for milksolids – backdated to July 1.

ALTHOUGH AREAS of northern Victoria may remain under water for months, the amount of damage wreaked by the state’s floods is slowly being assessed.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated.\nBasic HTML code is allowed.

» Get social

When butter and chocolate collide

TWO New Zealand companies Lewis Road Creamery and Whittakers have teamed up to deliver what must be every dairy lover’s dream: chocolate butter.

» E-Newsletter

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required