Vic teenager pleads with agricultural minister to 'save' dairy industry

An image of Chloe Scott in her younger years on the farm Source: Facebook

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce was the main target of a teenager's online campaign to save the dairy-farming industry from supermarkets who she said were 'destroying' it.

Chloe Scott, 16, has started a campaign calling on Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to do more to protect Australian dairy farmers "stripped financially" by supermarkets.

Growing up on a dairy farm and seeing the impact on the industry inspired Ms Scott to start a petition on the website calling on Mr Joyce to "please step in urgently".

She said supermarkets are "cutting" the amount they pay farmers for their milk.

She also said it has been devastating to watch "greedy corporates" leave hard-working dairy farmers like her father struggling to break even.

"The massive cuts to milk prices, slashed by 10 per cent and more, have had significant and horrible impact on finances and our lives," she said.

"It’s a tough life being a farmer, but we don't have to fight it alone - no one deserves to be stripped financially by the greed of others."

Ms Scott said farmers get locked into contracts with large corporations, only to then be stuck working for a loss when the agreed price paid-per-litre of milk is later changed.

Dairy processor Murray Goulburn has faced backlash in recent weeks after announcing the price they pay their 6000 farmers for milk could drop to as low as 35 cents a litre.

"Being a farmer, money comes in, and even more money goes out and accumulates large amounts of debt annually, and as as result of the recent drought, extra water is having to be paid for and delivered which is very very expensive," Ms Scott's petition said.

Ms Scotts' petition has emerged after an announcement by the supermarket chain Coles that they will be launching a new milk brand this year that pays 20 cents per litre to an independent fund in support of dairy farmers.

However, for many farmers this news is a case of too-little too-late.

Coles was criticised in 2011 for contributing to the financial decline of the dairy industry when they launched a $1 per-litre of milk campaign.

Their major rival, Woolworths, soon followed behind, and the devastating effects for farmers was immediate.

"To ruin Australia's own home-grown business is disgraceful," Ms Scott said.

"But this can be changed - Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce must step in to reverse these cuts and commit to a national review of the ridiculous pricing system leaving farmers in debt."

The student from Camperdown in south-western Victoria is hoping to get 150,000 signatories before delivering the petition to Mr Joyce.

She also hopes to get the support of Joel Fitzgibbon, the Labor Shadow Minister for Agriculture, and Minister for Regional Development, Jaala Pulford.

More than 101,000 people have signed the petition since it was published two weeks ago.

Supporters have left comments praising Ms Scott for her passion.

"A 10 per cent increase on the milk price within the supermarket fridges makes a little difference to the consumer but has a massive impact on the farmers income, who battle everyday to supply this product," Cassy Campbell said.

Silvia Morton, a farmer of more than 32 years, said allowing dairy farmers to lose everything for the sake of cheaper milk was "Un-Australian".

Kieren Stebbing agreed: "As an adult it's so sad that company profits are more important than people."

"I can't imagine how Chloe, at just sixteen, must feel about the disgusting greed of corporate companies," he said.

"I commend your courage and determination Chloe, hopefully united we can make a change."

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