Three more dairy farmers get milk contracts axed

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Jenne BrammerThe West Australian
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Busselton dairy farmer Kieran Chapman.
Camera IconBusselton dairy farmer Kieran Chapman. Credit: WA News

Three more South West dairy farmers have had their contracts axed as the industry struggles to find a response to oversupply problems that would spare individuals.

Parmalat-owned Harvey Fresh told the three producers this week their contracts would not be extended beyond June.

Those affected are Mike Norton of Capel, Tony Pratico of Bridgetown and Kieran Chapman of Busselton. They produce six million to eight million litres of milk annually.

Two other farmers contracted to Harvey Fresh have left the industry because of contract concerns.

WAFarmers dairy section president Michael Partridge said the agreements had been set for termination in January due to a sustained global dairy oversupply.

The farmers were granted a six-month reprieve, with hopes their contracts would be further extended.

They were advised this week that would not happen.

Capel dairy farmer Mike Norton.
Camera IconCapel dairy farmer Mike Norton. Credit: David Bailey.

Mr Partridge said the affected farmers were devastated. The Chapmans had just made a major investment in a new dairy.

“An incredible amount of long-term investment goes into a dairy farm and it is not an easy thing to get in or out of,” he said.

“We are still holding out a bit of hope that working with industry there may be a chance they can continue to milk going forward.

“The industry has been working together to find a solution whereby individuals don’t take the pain of industry problems. We are hopeful their milk will be taken up by other opportunities but this is still a work in progress.”

He said Harvey Fresh had been looking for new markets in order keep the contracts in force but eventually “had to make a call”.

The move by Harvey Fresh follows three Brownes Dairy suppliers’ contracts being cut last year. Dale Hanks and Graham Manning, both of Harvey, and Tony Ferraro, of Yarloop, were forced to dump milk when the Archer Capital-owned processor stopped collecting their produce.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is conducting an inquiry into the competitiveness, trading practices and transparency of the dairy industry.

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