Cost the issue, says Mayor

Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi says he believes the price is the main issue for dairy farmers.

By Dominique Tassell

Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi has commented on the state of the dairy industry, and the issues local farmers are facing.

“My personal view is that the price is the issue,” he says.

He says currently the middle man makes a profit at the cost of the producer.

“We need to get serious about food security,” he says.

Mayor Pennisi says Australia produces the safest food in the world, but we need to make sure our primary producers are viable and looked after.

“There has to be some way of guaranteeing a base rate.”

He says there are not many countries where primary production isn’t subsidised, and we’re one of them.

Mayor Pennisi says the United States of America and multiple countries in Europe subsidise food production.

“They value primary producers,” he says. “We need to give them the recognition they’re worth.

Cr Ross Bartley echoed similar sentiments, saying “overheads are beating everyone”.

He said it’s sad to see local farmers finish up.

“It’s the termination of a lifestyle,” he said.

Cr Bartley said the cost of production has never been commensurate with the cost of the good.

“European producers and American producers are heavily subsidised,” he said.

Cr Bartley said our primary producers should “absolutely” be subsidised.

He said our industries are so regulated and produce such clean food due to the Safe Foods Act introduced in 2006.

“Other countries have high demand for our products,” he said.

Mayor Pennisi said it’s sad to see local farmers finishing up production, and spoke of the knowledge that we lose when farms close.

Last month, two local dairy farms finished production.

Ian Brown in Freestone finished up n 5 July and said the combination of drought, flooding, costs going up, and milk prices going up too late led to the closure.

Bill Lester sold off the majority of his herd of St Andrews Illawarras last Thursday.

Bill has been incredibly involved in the local dairy industry for many years, sitting on boards and being involved in Warwick’s butter factory.

His family has farmed on their land at Glengallan for over 100 years, and will now pivot to beef production and grain.

Mayor Pennisi says he does understand why farmers are making the decision to close.

“The only good thing about bashing your head against the wall is when you stop.”