In the midst of the Senate and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) dairy inquiries, one dairy co-operative is demonstrating how an effective collective bargaining group can provide benefits to both dairy farmers and processors.

DFMC Chair Duncan McInnes says that having an independent arbitrator sets DFMC apart from other co-ops.

Dairy Farmers Milk Co-operative (DFMC) is a farmer-owned co-operative comprising more than 350 members across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

“Together we supply over 270 million litres of milk every year to Lion Dairy & Drinks in a long-term partnership that provides a quality product to Lion and security to our members,” says DFMC Chair and Queensland dairy farmer Duncan McInnes.

“What sets DFMC apart from other co-operatives or collective bargaining groups is that our current Milk Supply Agreement with Lion stipulates that if we have a dispute on price, either party can request it be resolved by an independent arbitrator and we are bound to abide by that independent decision.

“This helps to balance the power differences between the two, strengthens the co-operative and gets fairer results for farmers.”

These outcomes reflect the recent Senate dairy inquiry report that recommended a strengthening of support for dairy co-operatives and a reduction in power imbalances between farmers and processors.

DFMC made two submissions to the ACCC dairy inquiry, which is due to report its findings later this year.

“In our submissions to the ACCC dairy inquiry we highlighted the co-operative model we have at DFMC as one that has proven effective and beneficial,” said Duncan. “We also emphasized the need for more transparent and competitive milk pricing and contracting.

“At the end of the day, we just want to keep producing milk and stay in business. We are committed to our industry and with the right support we can keep producing milk at a fair price for all Australians to enjoy.”

DFMC farmers supply Lion’s dairy brands including ‘Dairy Farmers’ and ‘Pura’, and flavoured milks including ‘Dare’, ‘Farmers Union’, ‘Big M’ and ‘Moove’.

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