Keep Warrnambool in Aussie hands: UDV

Victorian dairy farmers are heading to Canberra today to argue that Australian processors need a level playing field as they compete with Canada's Saputo in the bid for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter (WCB).

Treasurer Joe Hockey approved Saputo's foreign investment application earlier this month, while Australia's Murray Goulburn is still yet to be cleared by the Australian Competition Tribunal.

"We’ll be asking our political leaders why Canadian dairy giant Saputo was unconditionally and quickly cleared to bid for WCB," United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) president, Kerry Callow, said.

"As it stands Saputo, a foreign-owned company, has been given a clear advantage over a farmer-owned Australian bidder."

In assessing the bids last week WCB’s board stated that while Murray Goulburn (MG) and Saputo are both offering $9 a share the Saputo offer is superior in terms of timing and execution certainty."

The WCB board went on to state, "the revised MG proposal is subject to numerous conditions including no objection by the ACCC or the granting of authorisation by the Australian Competition Tribunal. Both the timing and outcome of the authorisation process are uncertain."

The United Dairyfarmers of Victoria believes WCB should remain in Australian hands and is encouraging shareholders to recognise the merits of the two Australian companies currently in the running: Bega Cheese and Murray Goulburn.

"The UDV strongly supports the principle of Australian owned and operated manufacturers – where dairy farmers own the company and share in the profits along the way.

"We believe it is important for dairy farmers to have ongoing influence through the milk products’ supply chain," Callow said.

Dairy farmers are the major shareholders in the industry, owning about 90 percent of the farm-to-factory capital invested in Australian dairying.

"Let’s give our Australian-owned dairy companies the best possible chance to deliver our own profitable, globally competitive dairy industry.

"If we don’t take control of our destiny someone else will," she said.

Callow and her vice president, Tyran Jones, will meet with a number of ministerial officers to discuss their concerns today.


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