Dairy industry shrinks under deregulationby Patrick J. ByrneNews Weekly
, November 15, 2003
In 2000, Victorian dairy farmers were given a vote on National Competition Policy (NCP) initiated deregulation by the newly elected Labor Government. Effectively, the ballot paper asked, do you want deregulation with a package or deregulation without a package?
Caught between a rock and a hard place, Victorian farmers voted to deregulate with a package. This sparked deregulation in all other states, even though NCP public interest tests recommended against deregulation in all states except Victoria.
Deregulation has been a disaster. Between July 2000 and July 2003, the number of dairy farmers in Australia fell from 12,888 to 10,050 - a fall of 22%
State declines since 2000 have been: Queensland 40%, WA 29%, NSW 27%, Tasmania 20%, South Australia 25% and Victoria 18%.
There are many more farmers living on very low incomes. Some are hanging in there, hoping that something will soon change. Others, because of their age and inability to find other work, plan to sell off their land or their water and go on the old age pension when they retire in a few years.