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Milk price volatility and job destruction

18 May 2017 News
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The National Union of Workers (NUW) in Australia will fight the scheduled closures of dairy factories at Kiewa, Rochester and Edith Creek in an effort to save 360 jobs and protect rural communities.

Like Sancor in Argentina, Australia's Murray Goulburn is a cooperative in financial crisis. It has been forced to cancel the debts of hundreds of farmer suppliers after first demanding they make crippling repayments to the cooperative when farm gate prices were slashed in 2016.

And while mismanagement has played a role in these crises, low milk prices caused by global oversupply and the immense bargaining power of the retail and food processing conglomerates is devastating the lives of small farmers and workers.

While ATILRA (Argentina) and the NUW (Australia) fight on behalf of their members, governments have a duty to regulate in the interests of their citizens. A milk supply management system which creates greater price stability would preserve livelihoods and provide a fairer deal for dairy workers. Such a system in Canada is under relentless attack from the powerful proponents of trade liberalization and is being vigorously defended by IUF affiliates in that country.