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Wednesday, 18 May 2016 10:03

Leaders take action with regional response to dairy crisis

Representatives of Great South Coast Councils met in Camperdown yesterday to formulate a regional response to the dairy crisis gripping the Victoria's south west.

Great South Coast Group Chair Cr Colin Ryan said the region produced more than a quarter of Australia's milk, making it one of the nation's most important dairy regions.

"Dairy is one of our most important regional industries, delivering a third of the economic activity across the Great South Coast and employing around 6000 people," Cr Ryan said.

"Today's meeting was about understanding what we, as a region, can do to help now and also in the longer term.

"It's not just our farmers who are doing it tough – it's the hundreds of other businesses who service the dairy industry that will feel the full weight of the current crisis."

Cr Ryan said he and his Great South Coast colleagues would seek Government support to set up three 'one stop shop' centres across the region in the coming days and weeks.

These would be similar to those set up during emergency events to provide those impacted with easy access to government agencies such as Centrelink, social services and financial support.

"It's a tough time for a lot of people in our community and we want to spread the message to those affected that you are not alone and there are people ready to sit down at your kitchen table to go over the options with you."

The Great South Coast Councils have also called on the processors to provide early guidance around the opening price for next season to give the industry capacity to plan for the next 12 months and beyond.

"It's critical they provide some certainty to our farmers as the economic impact for our region is significant."
Cr Ryan said the milk price crisis would see farmers lose an estimated $133 million in direct. Around 850 jobs were likely to be lost.

"It's our understanding that we will lose around $336 million from our regional economy over the coming year – that's a huge blow for us all."

Cr Ryan said it was unclear how long the current crisis would continue, or what the longer-term impacts might be.

"We need to keep an eye to the longer-term to do whatever we can to ensure dairy continues to have a future in our region."

He expressed concern for younger farmers who had just entered the industry or who were considering a future in farming.

"Not only are we very keen to make sure they have the right support to ride out these turbulent times, but we also want our future farmers see a road ahead and not become completely disheartened by what is happening in the industry today."

More information: Cr Colin Ryan 0418 455 625

18 May 2016

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