THE United Dairyfarmers of Victoria and leaders of the Farmer Power movement have agreed to work together on gaining government financial assistance for struggling dairy farmers.
Following a meeting in Warrnambool last night the UDV and Farmer Power released a joint statement that stated: "The VFF/UDV and Farmer Power are working together to seek financial assistance that farmers need right now."
The statement went on to reinforce that: "Dairy is our state's biggest export earner. Together we need to support our farmers for the future of the state.
"We will be going to banks to get their support and then to government to get financial assistance for farmers."
UDV president Kerry Callow said the viability of dairy farmers has been threatened by unsustainable milk prices and they need government support.
"Dairy farmers are suffering from a dramatic slump in farmgate milk prices in the face of a high Australian dollar and rising input costs and the impact of the carbon tax," Ms Callow said.
Farmer Power co-organiser Jock O’Keefe said the bottom line was that dairy farmers were not being paid enough for their milk.
"Our campaign has put the issue of the dairy crisis in the spotlight. Now we have to act," Mr O’Keefe said.
VFF president Peter Tuohey said dairy farmers were sick of being ignored by governments, while other sectors were given vast sums to stay afloat.
"The federal and state governments – past and present – have a long history of pouring billions of dollars into keeping foreign-owned car makers in Australia.
"We’ve seen Toyota, Ford and general Motors (Holden) gaining vast sums to protect Australian jobs, yet dairying employs almost as many workers on farms and in dairy processing," Mr Tuohey said.
The car manufacturing sector employs 45,000 people across the country compared to 43,500 dairy farmers and processing workers.
"Why is a Ford worker in Geelong more important than a dairy farmer in Noorat?," Mr Tuohey said.
"Most experts recognise that the local car industry will not be viable in the long term.
"But most of us, including the Prime Minister recognise the enormous potential for our agriculture sector - with dairy being an important component - in the growing middle classes of our regional neighbours."