“Dairy farmers are begging us to eat more locally produced cheese,” Waleed told to the Tuesday night audience, explaining that our dairy farmers are suffering from an inherently unfair relationship with the country’s two largest dairy companies, Murray Goulburn and Fonterra.
Over the past month, Waleed says farmgate milk prices have been drastically slashed, meaning many local milk farmers are staring down bankruptcy. The changes mean that milk farmers are now paid 37 cents for each litre which costs them 38 cents to make.
But the blows don't stop there, and "the situation for our farmers is actually much, much worse than they first expected". Alarmingly, the big milk companies have said their price changes are retrospective, meaning the farmers must cough up the money they've made over the last financial year.
"Because our farmers have been paid $5.60 all financial year, Murray Goulburn and Fonterra are essentially claiming that the farmers were overpaid from July last year until the price cuts three weeks ago," the father-of-two said.
"Now, the farmers suddenly owe Murray Goulburn and Fonterra massive debts. The average debt reportedly owed to Murray Goulburn by a dairy farmer is $120,000."