Increased milk prices 'saving dairy farmers'

GREG McNamara, chairman of North Coast milk-supplier Norco, has de-% fended a pending milk-price rise, % saying it will help keep farmers on the land and save the industry. And he has warned Australian con- sumers may have to get used to paying more for agricultural produce as world population and demand for food% increases. Mr McNamara was responding to a Daily News report yesterday that the price of milk is about to soar. In yesterday's report, Murwillum- bah dairy farmer Corey Crosthwaite said he believed both farmers and con- sumers would suffer following the price hike. Mr McNamara said the planned price rise, which would add 10 to 15 cents to a litre of milk in the shops, was focused on helping farmers meet increased production costs, largely caused by the drought which has made grain feedstock more expensive. Mr McNamara said Norco was also predicting a shortage of milk, meaning his company had to lift farm-gate prices to encourage farmers to keep --------------- --------------- supplying Norco their milk. "Our view is the farm sector will get to a more sustainable position with the increase of the farm-gate price," he said. "Our focus is to try to keep farmers in dairying. Currently he said the farm- gate price was 45 cents a litre, but he tipped that would go to more than 50 cents a litre by autumn. Victorian dairies, he warned, were sending much of their milk to export markets, creating a domestic shortage with other companies from south-east Queensland vying for North Coast milk. "Agricultural products have been% relatively cheap in Australia for a% longer period," he said. "I think that's about to change. The world population is growing and west- ernising, and that means a bigger de- mand for dairy products."



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