The price of milk – is it too high or is the market just misunderstood?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

For many New Zealanders the cost of dairy products in the supermarket is not just high, but really high.

On the flip side, despite all the hype about increased Fonterra payouts and milk pricing, dairy farming is an industry which requires an extraordinary amount of hard work to make a living. The hype regarding payouts doesn’t reflect the reality of what are lean times for most dairy farmers.

So what is happening with the cost of milk? It’s a question that the Government has decided needs to be answered. Therefore, it was this week announced that Parliament’s Commerce Select Committee will undertake an inquiry into the price of milk. The overarching question the Select Committee will be considering is whether New Zealanders are paying too much for milk and whether the market is operating effectively.

But what is a Select Committee Inquiry?  What does it achieve?

Select Committees work on behalf of Parliament and report their conclusions on the matters put before them to the House of Representatives. A Select Committee, when undertaking an inquiry, can call for evidence, look at a wide range of matters, ask questions and request to see input from the public on the issue.

Upon conclusion of its inquiry the Select Committee will make decisions and analyse as to whether there is a competitive and fair market for New Zealand Consumers, following which it will make recommendations to Parliament. Those recommendations may result in no action being taken, legislative change or an overhaul of the entire market, depending upon the outcome of the inquiry.

So what does that mean for me?

To most of us, the workings of the parliamentary select committees and their findings are either of no interest or not high on our daily list of priorities. However in this case, when considering the fundamental market structure of our biggest industry, one thinks that the public should be encouraged to make their voices heard, whatever side of the market coin they fall on.

How can you be involved?

The Select Committee process allows for citizens to have their say in shaping the outcome of inquiries and the laws that may affect them. This is achieved by the committee receiving submissions from the public on the matter being considered.

A submission is the opportunity for every person, business, interest group or otherwise to present their opinion, observations and recommendations on the matter before the Select Committee. 

On the Milk Price Inquiry, the Select Committee is now calling for public submissions and the deadline for those submissions closes on Tuesday, 13 September 2011 at 5pm.

Making your submission count

For your submission to be effective, content and format are factors that need to be considered carefully.  A written submission should be in a form that is easily read and understood. This will allow it to be more effective and allow its recommendations or suggestions to have a greater impact on the committee. The reasons given for any suggestions or recommendations will add validity to your submission.

How can we help?

While it isn’t necessary to use a lawyer to prepare your submission, if your submission is of considerable substance or may raise issues of law, then you may wish to consider discussing your submission with us.