Tasmanian dairy farmers and industry groups do not believe the industry is leveraging enough off the state’s reputation, a Legislative Council inquiry has heard.
The inquiry, chaired by Western Tiers MLC Greg Hall, held public inquiries at Henty House in Launceston on Wednesday.
Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association dairy council chair Andrew Lester and Legerwood dairy farmer John Williams were among speakers who entered submissions or spoke at the session.
The inquiry heard discussion about regional brands such as Duck River and its effectiveness in an international market.
“The Tasmanian brand as a whole is much more significant than these regional ones,” Mr Lester said.
“Everyone knows Tasmania, the brand of Tasmania has more recognition globally.”
Mr Williams said he believed that Tasmanian dairy farmers were being “short changed” because they were being used to supply global processors such as Murray Goulburn and Fonterra.
“Our milk is as close as you can get to organic and it surpasses what benchmark they use in America is organic,” Mr Williams said.
“We also have some of the strictest animal welfare standards in the world. “
Mr Williams said while supplying to a cooperative such as Murray Goulburn and Fonterra made business sense it, in effect, sold Tasmanian milk short because it was used in generic Fonterra and Murray Goulburn milk products.
The inquiry also heard from the TFGA about the state’s moratorium on genetically modified food.
Tasmania has a government-mandated moratorium in place to remain GMO-free until 2019.
Mr Lester said while being GMO-free did assist with the Tasmanian brand, the state could be missing out on technical advancements made in the industry.
“Ryegrass is the basis of our cheap product, because we can grow it most of the year and it means we don’t have to rely on imported feed,” he said.
“There has been some research on ryegrass that we are potentially locked out of.
“The benefits from genetically modified ryegrass could be significant.”
The panel included Derwent Valley MLC Craig Farrell, Apsley MLC Tanya Rattray and Montgomery MLC Leonie Hiscutt.
The Legislative Council inquiry will hold public hearings in Burnie on Thursday.
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