13 Dec 2015

NZ milk banned from Queensland prisons

9:17 pm on 13 December 2015

New Zealand milk has been banned from four Queensland prisons amid complaints it's taking business away from local farmers.

Organic Jersey cow on a Rongotea farm.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Katter's Australian Party MP Shane Knuth said he was horrified to discover that since August, the Queensland Corrections department has been buying imported Ultra-High Temperature (UHT) milk from New Zealand for prisoners in Lotus Glen, Townsville, Wolston and Brisbane correctional centres.

It had taken away business from the state's struggling dairy farmers, the Dalrymple MP said.

"You just cannot make a decision like this to say 'OK we'll save a few cents but we'll give a kick in the guts to the industry that surrounds it'."

He complained to new Corrections Minister Bill Byrne earlier this week.

A spokesman for Mr Byrne said the minister immediately banned the use of long-life milk in favour of the local product.

Orders for fresh milk had been made.

Joe Bradley has been a dairy farmer for 40 years and said the government's move to use local produce in prisons fills farmers like him with hope.

"People just don't realise how lucky they are to have food that is produced in a clean, green way here in Australia," he said.

"Farmers are price-takers and we are having our guts ripped out ... we need help."

Queensland Dairy Farmers Organisation chief executive Adrian Peake welcomed the minister's announcement but wanted "to get the message through to all of government they should always be supporting local farmers.

"It's really important that the government supports the local industry because our farmers have been through a really tough time with the supermarket price wars, and that's been unrelenting, so any support is welcome," he said.