Andrew Burnett at his Dairy farm at Sexton.
Andrew Burnett at his Dairy farm at Sexton. Renee Albrecht

Farmer: Imported UHT milk the future unless things change

"WE'LL all be having imported UHT milk with our cappuccinos if dairy farmers keep on going backwards," Sexton milk producer Andrew Burnett warned yesterday.

Fortunately, he remains optimistic that farmers will survive, despite the worst the marketplace can throw at them.

"Europe deregulated two years ago and they ramped up production," he said.

"So there's oversupply in the world market.

"At the same time, Russian sanctions mean they are not buying.

"And China's in a bit of a slowdown.

"So there's heaps of product and the two main buyers aren't buying.

"World prices have crashed. Unfortunately some farmers will be caught.

"I'm not going to defend Coles and Woolworths, but they've been discounting milk for five years," he said, expressing doubt about a Coles plan to put 20c a litre back into the industry.

"That'll be from a new brand and people will think they're helping farmers by buying it.

"But no-one knows how the money will be paid and who will get it.

"And that new brand will compete with brands that are already supporting farmers, particularly name brands like Cooloola Milk, Pauls and Dairy Farmers.

"I don't think they'll be helping farmers as much as they're making out.

"When Coles dropped the price of milk in 2011, they ripped $100 million out of the price chain.

"We all need to get the facts and it's hard to get them," he said.

"In the south they've always had good prices, but that's just crashed now.

"Fontana in New Zealand and Murray Goulburn in Victoria will be looking to sell more here."

But Mr Burnett said it all with a smile yesterday.

"I'm a happy guy. If you're not happy, do something else.

"Dairying is still a good cash flow business because at least you get paid once a month. Queensland is 100 million litres of milk short of meeting its own demand, so there is a future."

It is an exciting time for those who can weather the storm, he said.

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