Another three Western Australian dairy farmers have had their contracts with a major processor axed.
The south-west dairy farmers were given a six-month reprieve by Parmalat-owned processor Harvey Fresh late last year after initially being told in July their contracts would not be extended.
It was hoped the contracts would be further extended.
But, the farmers this week found out their contracts will be terminated after June 2017.
It comes on top of an already turbulent past year for Australian dairy farmers, which WA was not immune to.
Three veteran dairy farmers eventually left the industry towards the end of the year after failing to secure new contracts in the wake of being dumped by their processor, Brownes.
Two other dairy farmers, who were contracted to Harvey Fresh, also left the industry.
WA Farmers Federation dairy section president Michael Partridge said the farmers were “devastated”.
“We really hope that they will be able to continue in the industry somehow.
“Perhaps if a couple of people in the industry are thinking about retiring and they are able to take up their contracts that would be fantastic, but it’s not looking good at the moment.”
Mr Partridge said he did not expect it to happen.
“I’m quite frankly surprised,” he said.
“I mean, Parmalat is one of the biggest dairy businesses in the world, and if they can’t find a home for three farmers I find that very disappointing.
“I was very disappointed with the Brownes situation earlier on, but that is a much smaller state-based business.
“For one of the biggest dairy companies in the world to not renew or not offer these farmers who have been supplying them for a long time contracts going forward is extremely disappointing.”
No other losses expected
Concerns have been circulating for other dairy farmers in the region whose contracts are due to be renewed in July.
But, Mr Partridge said from conversations he had with Parmalat, he believed they would be OK.
“They want to maintain the supply that they have from this time forward, so I don’t believe there will be any more.”
The news has once again sparked discussion about institutional problems in the West Australian dairy industry.
Mr Partridge said he believed industry needed to work together to find a home for milk during oversupply periods, such as spring, so it did not happen again.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission launched an inquiry into the industry in November last year, which will look at, among other issues, contract transparency and the impact of dollar-per-litre pricing.
Parmalat said they were unable to comment on the matter.