Farmers travelled from as far as Nowra, Tamworth and the Hunter Valley to attend the ACCC forum into milk pricing in Taree yesterday, February 8.
Parmalat supplier and South Coast dairy farmer Tim Cochrane said his motivation for travelling five and a half hours was to show numbers and for a chance to tell the ACCC his fears for the Australian dairy industry.
“The impact of the $1 milk from supermarkets is still affecting my family’s business years on,” said the fifth-generation dairy farmer.
Tim said on the South Coast he knows of family farms being sold and entire histories lost due to the lack of the foresight of the industry.
"We are losing the identity of family farms,” he said.
“The decisions are being made at a corporate level for short term gains, whereas we, in our business look ahead at generations. We look at our own kids and want them to have what we do.”
Oxley Island farmer James Neal said building a successful dairy farm and business takes a long time.
“People don’t realise the hours, and how low the returns can be,” he said.
“The only option for young farmers is to inherit their family’s farm – others cannot just start up anymore because the margins are so low.
“Unless farmers regain power in the industry, because that’s it we have no market power, there won’t be family-owned farms in the future.
“Future generations will look for other work if our businesses cannot be profitable and sustainable.”