National Foods hits back at Libs over milk accusations

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 15th April 2010

National Foods has hit back at claims by Queensland’s shadow minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries, Ray Hopper, that lowered quotas at its new Malanda plant will end in “death by a thousand cuts” for farmers.

National Foods has pledged to collect all milk above contracted volumes, and have described their new system as a more transparent version of the way milk is already priced. “Farmers should not find this a dramatic change to current arrangements,” they stated.

According to National Foods, under the new system, contracted volumes will be processed at Malanda, and a second-tier system will collect over-contract milk for processing elsewhere.  National Foods described over-contract milk as “not profitable for National Foods”.

The company reiterated its committment to purchasing all milk produced by the Dairy Farmers Milk Co-Operative, and asserted that National Foods’ Malanda production is increasing on previous years.

National Foods stated that the milk would be ‘priced according to its value’, but the exact difference between contract price and over-contract price was not clear.

According to Mr Hopper, the investment by National Foods in Malanda is no comfort.

“National Foods promptly axed butter and cheese production at Malanda and this week have announced they will slash allocations by roundly 30 per cent for whole [bottled] milk and they’ve left farmers guessing as to what price they’ll get when current contracts end in June,” he said.

“They are doing this because they can …there is no competition for Tableland milk and they know farmers will just have to wear it.”