A South Coast NSW dairy farmer has warned of nation-wide milk shortage in six months as the effects of drought and the export market impact.
While many consumers have relished the supermarket price war that saw the cost of milk drop to $1 per litre almost two years ago to the day, supply and drought threaten to sour the situation.
NSW is back to wanting rain as areas move into drought risk again, while the better-fairing Victorian dairy industry is tempted by the more lucrative export market for its product.
This all translates to changes both at the farm gate and supermarket shelf.
“It’s pretty brown in our region and farmers are under the pump,” Jamberoo dairy farmer Lynne Strong said.
“I would love to see the $1 milk price disappear and food prices reflect what’s actually happening on the ground – things are tough at the moment with bushfires and ongoing droughts.”
She says while the health of her livestock won’t be compromised, conditions like these make farming more difficult and expensive as available feed in paddocks dries up.
NSW is now looking to Victoria to help meet its dairy intake, yet the lucrative export market could understandably prove tempting.
“Milk will go where the processes can get the most money for it and there’s a shortage on the export market,” Lynne said.
“I can see in 6 months’ time we might be looking at a severe milk shortage in this country.”
It’s an interesting warning at a time where there was an oversupply of milk not that long ago that was also causing dairy farmers financial pain.
If it eventuates, it’s also likely to be noticed by consumers who will find themselves paying more for milk at the supermarket.
Whether Coles and Woolworths absorb the extra cost and keep their milk at $1 remains to be seen, but dairy farmers fear further cuts to the price they get for their milk, which recently was yielding 12c per litre.
“Coles has extended its $1 milk into convenience stores which is very concerning for other small convenience stores,” Lynne said.
“It’s a worrying trend – I know it’s great for consumers but Australia is the only place in the world where food prices have dropped.
“Farmers are struggling to put food on the table and that’s pretty sad.”
Sourse: ABC Illawarra, Australia