Member for Page Janelle Saffin says the United States’ decision to reintroduce dairy subsidies is a kick in the guts to our dairy farmers.
Ms Saffin has told Parliament that the dairy industry is a key industry in Page and the US move could push prices down and distort the market.
“I am appalled that the United States has taken a big backward step towards protectionism,” she said.
“This flies in the face of the G20 leaders’ agreement not to impose protectionist measures in the face of the global recession.
“We now have the EU and the US paying dairy subsidies and the danger is that more will follow, like lemmings.
“This further highlights the importance of concluding the World Trade Organisation’s Doha round, which would see the complete elimination of export subsidies- a process we in Australia are committed to.
“I know from direct contact with dairy farmers that many are experiencing tough times due to the difficult and challenging economic climate.”
Speaking on the floor of the Parliament, Ms Saffin said local dairy farmers had adjusted to many reforms over the past decade or more, some of them painful, but the local industry had come through.
“Importantly, two-thirds of dairy farmers still feel very positive about their future,” she said.
Ms Saffin said she was pleased that the Trade Minister,Simon Crean, and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Tony Burke, were running hard on this issue and protesting loudly at the highest levels.
“All of us are going in to bat for our dairy farmers,” Ms Saffin said.
On a brighter note, Ms Saffin told Parliament she was pleased that after much detailed negotiation by the Government, the Indian market had reopened for Australian dairy exports for the first time since 2003.