Mary Valley dairy farmer Cooloola Milk owner operator Dick Schroeder.
Mary Valley dairy farmer Cooloola Milk owner operator Dick Schroeder. Renee Albrecht

‘Put up or shut up’ on farm milk price

DAIRY farmers need to borrow trade union strategies and fight as one for a fair deal from processors.

Either that or they should stop complaining, Mary Valley independent milk brand owner Dick Schroder said this week.

Mr Schroder's premium Cooloola Milk product is a stand-out survivor of the milk wars that followed deregulation, collapsing farm gate prices and discount supermarket milk.

And he says he pays a premium price to his farmer-suppliers (including himself and his brother).

"I have to pay big money to my suppliers, because others try to poach them all the time.

"One way to get rid of Cooloola Milk is to make us have no farmers.

"I pay by quality, by the kilo of butterfat and protein, the higher the test the more cents a litre."

So the price varies but "you're looking at the high sixties," he said.

And business is going fairly well.

"Put it this way, I'm looking for another supplier," he said.

But farmers faced with dropping prices needed to stand up for themselves.

"They should withhold product, stand together and refuse to sign unfair contracts.

"It's no good boring it up Coles and Woolworths," he said.

"If the processors weren't supplying the cheap milk, the supermarkets wouldn't have it to sell."

And, by implication, none of it would be happening if farmers refused to sell milk for less than their production costs.

"But they won't do it.

"Farmers are their own worst enemy. Someone will always go around behind to get an advantage," he said.