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Barnaby Joyce to urge higher milk prices

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Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has said he will urge retailers and dairy processors to increase what they pay dairy farmers for milk.

Joyce told Channel Nine yesterday he would phone the relevant parties in an effort to resolve the problem.

"[It's] an anathema, I think it's incredibly wrong that water in a bottle is priced more than milk and I think we need to have a strong yarn to retailers about that," he said.

"[I will] basically ask them if they want to fix it, that would be great if they don't ask the government to fix it which they always complain about but that's an option that we can always keep up our sleeve."

The statement follows the recent decisions by Murray Goulburn and Fonterra to cut their farmgate milk prices. Murray Goulburn cut its price from $5.65 to a low of $4.75 kgMS, while Fonterra cut its price from $5.60 per kgMS to $5.00 per kgMS.

According to the Warnambool Standard, the Government is looking at further ways to assist dairy farmers hit by the price drop.

Member for Wannon Dan Tehan, Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson, Member for Gippsland Darren Chester and United Dairyfarmers of Victoria president Adam Jenkins have met with Joyce to discuss the issue.

“Barnaby Joyce has made it clear that he wants to come down here and hear from farmers on the ground before making a final decision on what needs to be done,” Tehan told The Standard.

“Barnaby will be coming down talking to dairy farmers in Victoria this week.

“We’re looking at some sort of package of assistance for our dairy farmers that will work to get them through this difficult stage and set them up for the future.”

As AAP reports, opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon claimed the Government has been too slow to act.

“This thing is almost three weeks old and he’s not said a word,” Fitzgibbon said.

“He needs to stand by farmers and show them he has their support.”

Joyce confirmed that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will investigate the price drop.

“The ACCC will consider whether the changes have involved misleading conduct or whether there are elements of unconscionable conduct,” chairman Rod Sims said.

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