Dairy farmers have welcomed the Victorian government’s million-dollar assistance package in the wake of falling milk prices, but say more needs to be done to tackle financial and emotional distress in the long-term.
On Friday, the state government announced $1.5 million will go towards extra counselling services, mental health training and community grants for farmers affected by the milk crisis.
Premier Daniel Andrews said in a statement he has also convened an industry taskforce which will report back to government shortly.
“We’re putting farmers and their families first by providing them with the support they need to look after themselves and each other,” Andrews said.
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“Victorian dairy farmers produce world class produce that we’re proud of. Farmers are resilient and proud people, but we know that even the most resilient need support during these difficult times for the dairy sector.”
Australian Dairy Farmers has welcomed the funding announcement but is calling on a bipartisan approach that moves beyond “short term” concerns.
This includes working with the competition watchdog to find a better balance between the needs of farmers and retailers, along with major financial institutions to ensure dairy farmers are treated fairly during tough times.
Industry groups have been meeting with the federal government and a support package from Canberra is expected to be announced shortly.
Peter Strong, chief executive of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told SmartCompany the federal government needs to act to reduce the impact of the supermarket duopoly through smart policy instead of announcing a temporary repair job.
“Let’s get back top the root cause,” Strong says.
“They [politicians] have ignored it for so long. Bad policies create health problems. That’s the core of this, and if they [the government] want to save money in the future, that’s what they need to tackle.”