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Taking Stock: farmers' reflections on the deregulation of Australian dairying

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Abstract:

On 1 July 2000 significant changes to the regulation of Australian dairying came into effect. These changes eliminated subsidies to milk producers and removed barriers to the inter-State trade of dairy products. Victoria's dairy industry group was a powerful proponent of deregulation, because of the comparative advantage that the State's farmers have in production relative to Australia's other milk producers. However, the deregulation of the dairy industry was contested stridently by many stakeholders, particularly farmers and their representative groups in States other than Victoria. Even within Victoria some farmers were equivocal and some were opposed to the regulatory changes. This paper draws on interviews with informants in the Victorian dairy sector to reveal responses to the regulatory changes. The interviews indicate that opinion was divided before deregulation and remains so. The debate was largely between those who saw the regulatory changes as 'inevitable', some of whom thought it would be a 'good thing' and others who accepted, grudgingly, that it was simply going to happen, and those who thought there had to be alternatives that would avoid the expected adverse consequences.

Keywords: DAIRYING; ECONOMIC RESTRUCTURING; REGULATION; RURAL COMMUNITIES; RURAL LAND USE

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00049180220124999

Publication date: March 1, 2002

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