UDV president Adam Jenkins has labelled the newly appointed Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud ‘‘a good bloke’’ following a meeting earlier this month to discuss issues facing Victorian dairy farmers.
Mr Littleproud met with a number of Victorian dairy farmers, including Mr Jenkins, in the state’s west in what the minister described as a chance to speak about ‘‘real issues’’.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s investigation into the milk price crisis and dairy industry, Saputo’s bid to take over Murray Goulburn and concerns over power and water were key issues raised by the dairy farmers.
‘‘The water issues were raised very clearly and put on the front burner so to speak to make sure there’s a full understanding of the impacts,’’ Mr Jenkins said.
‘‘Some people that know water very well were there and were very clear on Victoria’s view of the impacts of water and getting those things right.’’
Mr Littleproud drew some ire from the irrigation community for comments he made in an interview in December, during which he committed to returning the 450Gl of ‘up-water’ to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
‘‘We’ve made the decision to support the plan and that’s part of the plan,’’ Mr Littleproud said in the interview.
‘‘I don’t think anyone should say we’re going to blow up the building. We’ve got a plan, let’s work collaboratively to achieve that.’’
While Mr Littleproud stopped short of making any promises regarding the basin plan, Mr Jenkins said he listened to their concerns and acknowledged that there were some issues with other states.
Concerns regarding rising energy prices were also discussed heavily with the minister, with Mr Jenkins emphasising the impact on operators from farm gate to the value chain.
‘‘We’re not costing ourselves out of an industry because we’re not competitive,’’ he said. ‘‘Our phone is always on and his is always on, so let’s make sure we’re working together where we can.’’