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Aussie dairy industry adjusts to deregulation

Payments from a $1.63 billion package are available to Australian dairy farmers meeting the challenges of a deregulated milk market from 1 July 2000.

Up to 20,000 dairy farmers may apply for assistance under the Dairy Structural Adjustment Package with payments to dairy farmers affected by State Government deregulation to be assessed by the Dairy Adjustment Authority. The program is part of the $1.78 billion Dairy Industry Adjustment Package, which was established in response to an industry request for assistance while it adjusts to deregulation.

Industry believes the restructure is an inevitable consequence of market forces and will lead to a more competitive Australian industry.

Helen Dornam, of the peak policy body of the industry, the Australian Dairy Industry Corporation (ADIC), said the Australian dairy industry competes with the rest of the world to sell its products. "Competition from New Zealand in particular limits the industry’s ability to increase returns from the domestic market," Ms Dornam said.

"The commercial pressures in Victoria mean deregulation is inevitable and this will impact on the farm gate price of market milk in all States, irrespective of whether or not regulations are in place."

Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, said that under the package adjustment payments to eligible dairy farmers would accrue from 1 July 2000, with the first payments anticipated in mid-October.

"A second part of the package, the Dairy Exit Program, will provide exit payments of up to $30 million to assist those farmers who decide to leave the industry."

The Federal Government has also provided $45 million for a Dairy Regional Assistance Program to help rural communities adjust to dairy deregulation.

Further details:
Annette Clark, Dairy Adjustment Authority, (00612) 6272 489

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