The national voice for Australian dairy farmers

ADF Restructure Q&A

Questions & Answers on the ADF Restructure

Click on questions to see answers.

Can’t Dairy Australia do this work?

Dairy Australia’s role is to develop and drive industry services and innovation, and it does this very well. Australian Dairy Farmers is the peak national farmer representative, policy and advocacy body.

Do processors have a conflict of interest?

It is vital for both ADF and processors to ensure that the funding model does not create a conflict of interest. That is why the investment will be managed by ADIC and any funding will be applied to whole-of-supply-chain issues that do not present a conflict between farmers and processors.

How did ADF come up with this model?

ADF spent over two years working with our constituent state members toward a more sustainable business model. An ADF restructure committee was formed to explore different options. These options were canvassed with people from all sectors of our industry, including farmers, processors and members of State Dairy Farmer Organisations. As a result of this valuable feedback, a revised model was developed in June 2011, which was further refined over the next 12 months and eventually endorsed by the Board and ADF State members.

How long will the dairy processors invest in ADIC activity?

Dairy processing companies have committed to an initial three years of funding to ADIC.

How much will ADF membership cost the individual farmer?

ADF membership for farmers is at no additional cost to their State Farmer/Dairy Organisation membership fee. As they are two separate organisations, farmers will need to apply to become a member of ADF, but will not have to pay additional fees.

I pay a levy to Dairy Australia; why aren’t they more active in helping to support this model?

Dairy Australia has a clearly defined role, as directed by the Federal govenment, to develop and drive industry services and innovation. Dairy Australia provides valuable services and research to us. Dairy Australia is specifically excluded from policy and advocacy under its Charter. Australian Dairy Farmers is the peak national farmer representative, policy and advocacy body.

Isn’t this just more bureaucracy? More levels and therefore more costs?

ADF now moves to a substantially smaller Board and a National Council that will need to meet less frequently than the ADF Board. ADF will be able to deliver better governance and policy outcomes for the same cost. Farmers will be able to communicate directly with ADF.

So what has ADF and ADIC actually achieved?

Some examples of ADF’s successful advocacy and influence in policy debates include:

Water – Through ADF, ADIC has helped shape the water debate on several fronts. On the Murray Darling Basin (MDB), ADF has been the key voice for dairy farmers to governments, the MDB Authority and the community. Even though the Basin plan is now in the hands of the politicians, ADF, ADIC and our State member bodies continue to meet and express our concerns with the MDBA, Government and Opposition, Greens, Independents and other political groups. The dairy industry recognises that achieving good national water reform is an ongoing process and there is still a long way to go.

Carbon pricing – Under ADIC, ADF was instrumental in deflecting the Rudd Government from implementing the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme on the basis that, indirectly, the average cost per farm would have been around $9000. ADF and ADIC will continue to call on the Government to remove electricity from the carbon tax and to build fairness into the scheme. It is absolutely vital that a fair deal for dairy farmers is achieved. As well as the removal of electricity from the scheme, we want to ensure the final rules provide access for dairy farms to planned support measures and to help shape the direction of on-farm RD&E. ADIC and ADF will continue to work with all government parties on these issues that will impact on the dairy industry from farmer through to processor.

Animal health – The ADF has a strategic priority of securing market access for the dairy industry by promoting sound animal health and welfare practices and by supporting systems to protect the industry from domestic and international biosecurity threats. Significant time and resources have been devoted to the development of a science-based animal welfare standard for a maximum time off feed for calves being transported. ADF has also been closely involved with the development of National Standards and Guidelines for Animal Welfare in Cattle. Draft Standards and Guidelines will be released for public consultation later in 2012.

Home brand milk price – ADF has taken the industry lead in challenging the Coles $1 per litre milk price campaign. ADF’s efforts to date have kept the spotlight on the issue and generated much support from a broad range of stakeholders. ADF and its member State Dairy Farmer Organisations will continue to call on the Government to support the dairy industry’s recommendation for an enforceable and mandatory Code of Conduct for supermarkets that covers the entire value chain, from farmer to retailer.

So what is the relationship between ADIC and ADF?

The Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) coordinates industry policy and represents all sectors of the industry on national and international issues. The ADIC has two constituent bodies: the ADF (Australian Dairy Farmers) and the ADPF (Australian Dairy Products Federation).

What are the key national issues facing Australian dairy farmers issues at the moment?

The critical issues are water (Murray Darling Basin Plan), carbon, retail milk price and animal health and welfare as well as finding, training and retaining quality staff. We are tackling all of these at national level, and collaborating closely with our State Dairy Farmer Organisations and other dairy industry bodies.

What does ADF do?

ADF’s mission is to provide strong national leadership and collective representation for dairy farmers. This will ensure our continued prosperity as an internationally competitive, innovative and sustainable industry.

What if I do not want to become a member of ADF?

Membership to ADF is voluntary and does not cost you anything above your State-based membership.

What will happen to the State Dairy Farmer Organisations?

There is no change to the State Dairy Farmer Organisations. They remain independent and focussed on representing members’ interests and protecting farmer interests at State, regional and local levels.

When did this restructure happen?

ADF’s State members voted on the new Constitution on 15 August 2012. The new constitution took effect immediately with much of the change being implemented by the first AGM in November 2012.

Who can be on the ADF Board?

The four Business Directors must be farmers. There is a limit of no more than two Business Directors who farm in any one State. There will be one Independent Director who need not be a dairy farmer. Any farmer can stand for the ADF Board provided they are a member of ADF and their State dairy body. All farmers will be able to vote for Business Directors.

Why are the processors funding ADF work? What’s in it for them?

Processors recognise that issues affecting farmers and their profitability ultimately have flow on effects further along the dairy supply chain and so have given in-principle agreement to provide funding to the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) to deliver whole-of-supply-chain policy and advocacy work.

Why couldn’t ADF keep going the way it was?

We would have had to downsize our workforce and this would have restricted our ability to meet current national policy and advocacy needs.

Why do I need to fill in a separate form to join ADF if membership is free as part of my State Farmer/Dairy Organisation fee?

Farmers must separately apply for ADF membership to ensure that only farmers who choose to join ADF become ADF members. Where State Dairy Farmer Organisations have been able to allocate ADF a space on their membership forms, farmers can simply indicate agreement to become ADF members on the one form. Otherwise, farmers can apply to join ADF by filling out an ADF membership form and sending this back to ADF.

Why do we need a National Council as well as the ADF Board?

The substantially smaller ADF Board oversees operations and sets the strategic direction of the organisation. The National Council is a larger body with all regions represented proportionally according to milk production. The National Council provides input to ADF’s strategic direction and policy matters, oversees our Program Advisory Groups (PAGs) and keeps the Board informed of member issues.

Why the need to restructure?

Our previous structure and arrangements were financially unsustainable and was restricting what we can do for dairy farmers. In gaining more certainty over our future we can maintain a strong collective voice for farmers and the Australian dairy industry as a whole.

Will ADF’s role change?

ADF’s role will not change and we will continue to represent farmers at a national level. This restructure gives us confidence that we can continue on a sustainable footing into the future.

Won’t the smaller ADF Board mean a less representative Board?

The role of the Board of Directors is to enable the organisation to operate, by overseeing management and setting the strategic direction of the organisation. The National Council will provide input to ADF’s strategic direction and policy, oversee our Policy Advisory Groups (PAGs) and keep the Board informed of member issues so that the Board can make informed decisions.

Contact Details

Level 2 Swann House
22 William Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

Tel: (03) 8621 4200

Fax: (03) 8621 4280

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