Farmers cautious on trade deal
THE region’s dairy farmers have given a new free trade agreement with Indonesia a cautious tick of approval, but believe its major effect could be to force supermarkets to pay fairer prices for their produce.
The Australian Government signed the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership with the Indonesians last week, and it promises easier access and the removal of tariffs for many primary industries.
Among those are dairy products, where a five per cent tariff will be removed on what is a $200 million annual trade nationally, some immediately and others by 2033.
According to an analysis by the National Farmers Federation, other benefits will be the gradual elimination over five years of remaining tariffs on frozen beef and sheep meat, guaranteed increasing access for feed grains and wheat and an increased amount of duty-free access for live cattle, increasing the number of live males able to be exported to Indonesia from 575,000 to 700,000 over the next five years.
Indonesia is Australia’s third-largest dairy export market after China and Japan, but what will the deal mean for our region’s dairy farmers?
Tyrendarra farmer and Wannon branch president of United Dairyfarmers of Victoria Bruce Knowles said it would open up more opportunity for trade with Indonesia, though this was not done on an individual farmer level but processors such as Fonterra and Saputo.
“Hopefully at the end of the day it’s going to translate into more money back in the pockets of dairy farmers,” he said.
“The important thing is to make sure it does happen, and it’s not just weasel words.”