Coles under siege the choice is yours and the choice is now

I have been moved by the number of farmers from other industries and members of the community who have very vocally come out in support of Australian dairy farmers. Today’s blog post highlights the diversity of these people and shares why they are so passionate.

Firstly Queensland school teacher Lisa Claessen who publishes her own blog Telling Tales has launched this petition to get Coles to rethink the decimation they are raining down on the dairy industry through the milk price wars. Please read it and share it with your friends and most importantly sign it. You can find Lisa’s petition here

Lisa Claessen

QLD schoolteacher Lisa Claessen goes in to bat for Aussie Farmers

Secondly these thoughts from South Australian grain farmer and wheat trader Corey Blacksell

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We are all in this together says grain farmer Corey Blacksell

Being a grain farmer in a predominantly export orientated State; one might wonder why I have been so vocal in my support of dairy farmers.

Our property is located 295kms, by road, from the Port of Adelaide. We are predominantly grain growers, but also have a small flock of merino ewes that produce a first cross lamb, annually. We spread these operations across our 4640ha property. We began farming in our own right on July 1st, 2008.

So why does that mean I should be vocal in my support of the dairy industry? Apart from being fellow farmers, there are far deeper economic and principled reasons for my support of the dairy industry.

Firstly, I put my farmer hat on. As a grain producer in the predominantly export supply chain that is South Australian grain, it is my aim to remove myself from that supply chain. Having built on farm storage there is no point in participating in the export supply chain. In excess of $80 tonne ($40 freight and $40 storage and handling) are removed to form my farm gate price. Located on the SA/Vic border I aim to access the Victorian domestic market, a market that’s in equilibrium for supply and demand in an average season.

Dairy makes up approx 50 per cent of the cattle that consume feed grain in Australia, consuming around 1.5 tonne per head per year according to Dairy Australia. There are 1.6 million dairy cows in Australia (2010/11). This equates to approximately 2.4 million tonne of feed grain per year Australian dairy cows consume. The value adding of grain, into protein, creates a domestic demand for my grain and leaves the dollars in Australia and this is a win win for my family and my community.

Secondly, I put my consumer hat on. The permanent discounting of fresh food, by the supermarkets, is placing at risk the supply of Australian grown food, food that is universally accepted as being of the highest quality and integrity; food that the shopper can buy with confidence.

In an age when prices only go up, I ask myself how it is fresh food prices are coming “down down”. Who is paying for this deflation? Further to that, who will pay for this in the future?

The future may not be higher prices, but lower quality for the same price. Cheap food today will not create cheap food in the future. Cheap food will mean imported food, from countries with standards lower than our own. No one can demand a consumer pays for quality, but consumers must have the option. The risk is this option will be removed by the duopoly. That’s right, you will be given what Coles and Woolworths decide they want to sell you. They will want to sell you the things that make them the most margin.

“How can this be” you ask. Easily, it’s happening now and no one is even aware of it. The best eating and tasting fruit and veg do not make it to the shelf. Only the fruit and veg that creates the best value for the seller makes the shelf. One dollar milk is another example of best price, and not best quality.

Australian consumers now have a clear choice; cheap food leading to imported food of questionable quality and integrity or Australian produced high quality food.

The choice is that stark.

Perhaps a quote from The Conversation regarding the car industry can give us an insight into the future of Australian food production, minus the subsidies. You exchange manufacturing for agriculture!

If Australians want an auto industry, they must be prepared to pay for it – as ever – through the tax system. If they don’t, then they must also shoulder the consequences: a depleted skills base; a hollowed-out manufacturing sector; major job losses in every Australian state; and the decimation of a large number of regional and urban towns.”

It’s our choice now.

This great animation from the Hungry Beast opens the lid and exposes how Woolies and Coles are taking over OZ in leaps and bounds