Gympie dairy ultimatum: Minister says 'speak now or else'
"TIME'S up," federal agriculture minister David Littleproud told the nation's dairy industry today.
Speaking after a Gympie meeting with farmers and processors, Mr Littleproud blasted industry leaders at all levels, saying it was time they sorted it out.
"I've received an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report around a mandatory code of conduct and I've given the industry time to go away and develop a consensus on how we should deal with it.
"I met with industry leaders about a week and a half ago and I've told them time's up," he said.
"I want them to come back to me with advice on how I should deal with it.
"It's now time for them to give me their ideas about their needs, including whether they want a code of conduct to be voluntary or compulsory.
"They've had enough time to talk about this. If they don't do it, I'm going to act myself.
"Farmers tell me they're at their end.
"This is where the rubber hits the road. Farmers and processors are telling me loudly and clearly that we will not have an industry if we do not address this.
"Industry leaders are letting their own industry down and they're letting their farmers down. I'm not going to take uppercuts when the industry won't tell me what they want."
Introduced by Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien, Mr Littleproud said he was on tour to discuss dairy issues in the real world rather than Canberra.
"In Canberra you can live in a bubble," he said.
He also urged consumers to vote with their feet and their wallets by not buying supermarket brand cheap milk.
"You have the power to buy privately branded milk and you will be helping an Aussie farmer.," he said.
Mr O'Brien said the industry in Wide Bay was in crisis and urgent action was needed.