Retailers must do the right thing by dairy farmers

Oct 08, 2018

For nearly a decade, dairy farmers have been wearing the pain caused by discounted products, whether it’s $1 per litre milk or cheap cheese.

I remember when the first $1 per litre products went on supermarket shelves on Australia Day, 2011 and the outrage caused by the resultant “milk wars”.

Prior to this marketing campaign, the last time milk was $1 per litre was around 1992. But in 2018, it’s impossible to live on a wage set at 1992 levels.

Now there is momentum to turn things around and give value back to the dairy supply chain.

Some supermarket chains have announced plans to help drought-affected dairy farmers.

Woolworths plans to introduce a special range of milk priced at $1.10 per litre in mid-October. Homebrand 2L and 3L milk products are currently on shelves for $1.10 per litre until the drought-relief milk product launches.

Coles is now selling its 3L Own Brand milk products for $3.30, with the money collected to be distributed back to farmers via a fund with an application process.

Both have been upfront about the fact that their initiatives are only short-term measures that aren’t intended to solve the problem of discounted dairy products.

As President of Australian Dairy Farmers, I represent farmers all across the country. Many are calling me asking how they are eligible to receive a fair price from either of these plans.

The problem with both plans is that many regions of Australia affected by drought with high production costs impacting thousands of dairy farmers, yet most of those farmers won’t be able to claim a benefit from either initiative.

Coles has encouraged any dairy farmers to apply for a grant through their fund, but those in drought-declared areas will be given priority, while

Woolworths intends to distribute the extra 10c from their drought-relief milk back to farmers via their processor.

While I support measures that see farmers paid a reasonable price for their hard work and dedication, I must ask, “Is this really the best we can do?”

Certainly ADF and our state dairy farmer organisations believe all dairy farmers must see a benefit from any increase in retail milk prices.

Farmers put tireless effort and resources into producing a quality product. And it leaves a deep and lasting impact to see your hard work sitting on a supermarket shelf for less than the price of water.

This pricing practice is not viable and we urgently need a shared solution to assist in building the long-term sustainability of Australian dairy farmers.

Ultimately, we must push for a permanent end to discounted dairy products, whether it’s $1 per litre milk or cheap cheese.

There is a groundswell of support for farmers hit hard by the drought and supermarkets have the best opportunity to scrap their discounted dairy products right across the breadth and depth of the dairy cabinet.

The supermarkets know what farmers want. They know what they deserve. It’s now time for them to take a big step forward and do the right thing by ending this pricing practice.

But until that time comes, I encourage the public to help dairy farmers by continuing to buy branded dairy products.

- Terry Richardson, ADF President

United we stand, divided we fall

Jul 05, 2018

It’s not news to say that the Australian dairy industry is highly fractured. Divisions exist all along the supply chain, often for historical reasons.

We should acknowledge the impact of the challenges of the last few years - the bargaining imbalance between different sections of the industry, volatile markets reflected in farmgate milk prices, adverse seasonal conditions, and other factors outside farmers’ control.

While there has been hardship for many, this environment has facilitated a culture of blame and negativity, which now permeates the industry and could have destructive consequences.

It is doing none of us any favours to attack our own. Our focus must be on working together to rebuild our industry.

Every step along the value chain depends on strong relationships, based on trust and confidence, the value of which we only know when it’s lost.

Much has been made of the trust deficit engulfing our industry. It has been broadly acknowledged that trust has been lost right across the supply chain. But we cannot let anger describe us. We simply cannot allow the industry to implode.

Tough questions bring forward new options. Cynicism leaves us closed to new ideas. There is always be room for differences to be expressed. But this process must be constructive.

It is vital that we find a way to cooperate, share knowledge and support each other - bring together our considerable capacity for optimism and resources to face the future. Only through sharing our experiences can we truly understand and regain trust in our industry.

Unfortunately, this is common advice which is rarely followed. It is sad to note that the Australian dairy industry traditionally has failed to stick together during difficult times, when unity is most important. We cannot let this vicious cycle of negativity continue.

We have a lot to be proud of as an industry. Our achievements are significant, but imagine how effective we could be as a cohesive, united industry? That’s how we have an impact. That’s how we influence decision makers.

We need to show our unity of purpose, shared belief and passion for the dairy industry. None of us by ourselves has an answer to what may be sought, but unity brings an open, honest, and shared discussion about the challenges faced by our friends, neighbours, or the broader industry.

If we cannot deal with challenges as an industry, there is a real problem. We need unity, collaboration and support if we are to affect change. If we don’t have farmers sitting at the table, we lose the opportunity to help ourselves and influence the future for others

How can we expect government to help us if we can’t first help ourselves? Government doesn’t want us to dump our problems on them. They want us to seriously consider solutions that they can implement to benefit industry.

It’s time to stop being part of the problem and start contributing to the solution. Share your pride in the work we do and value the need to contribute to industry development. Acknowledge the belief others have shown in us through investment and a shared desire for a sustainable industry.

Join a local branch of your state dairy farming organisation, bring forward your ideas and help rebuild a strong and vibrant dairy industry.

Engage with industry leaders at all levels. They need to hear from you. Reach out with respect and ensure they have an opportunity to walk with you and share your issues.

Be tough on issues but also respectful to our friends and others who are taking action on your behalf.

Our industry depends on our ability to unite.

Dairy Bio – A day on the green

Sep 22, 2017

The ability to access new technologies is essential for dairy farmers to keep the cost of production down.

DairyBio CRC and DataGene are two organisations that are steadily delivering solutions for the dairy industry in the fields of animal health, fertility, herd improvements and genetics.

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) and the Australian Dairy Products Federation recently attended the Dairy Bio CRC Open Day in Hamilton, Victoria. More than 150 dairy and livestock farmers, and service providers from all over Australia attended the Open Day to view how research programs are changing the way dairy farmers innovate on-farm.

Hamilton’s Agriculture Victoria research farm is the site where all the large-scale, field-based pasture activities are located for DairyBio, and it is the best place to see how innovations will deliver game-changing increases in pasture yield, persistence and quality.

Throughout the day we were informed of the world’s largest precision-planted ryegrass filed trial, viewed drones and ground vehicles with advanced sensor technologies, walked through glasshouse facilities with the latest forage innovations and shown drought-tolerance trials which could be a game-changer for farmers in the future.

One of DairyBio CRC’s major achievements is the invention of a hybrid technique for ryegrass breeding. This will unlock a 20 per cent yield advantage in hybrid ryegrass varieties and also make it easier for plant breeders to use genomic selection and add novel endophytes in new pasture varieties. The current modeling suggests that hybrid ryegrass could deliver a benefit of $300 per hectare to Australian dairy farmers.

These viable solutions are a great example of how industry and research sectors work together to deliver some of the most positive and permanent changes to dairy herds and dairy pastures.

ADF recognises the potential productivity benefits of these new technologies and the need to innovate to compete on the global stage. The adoption of these technologies is going to become increasingly important to help farmers remain profitable, improve natural resource use and facilitate adaptation to ongoing business pressures.

The Australian dairy industry has achieved considerable improvements in farm productivity through the adoption of new technology and will continue to find new ways to be more efficient, and environmentally sustainable while still remaining profitable over the long term.

David Inall

ADF Chief Executive Officer

 

Expressions of Interest Open for the ADF Board

Sep 15, 2017

Nominations for three Business Director positions and an Independent Director on the Australian Dairy Farmers’ (ADF) Board opened today.

ADF is calling on its members to nominate eligible candidates for three Business Director positions and an Independent Director position.

ADF President, Terry Richardson said that we are looking for dairy farmers who are passionate about advancing dairy farming in Australia and have a strong industry commitment.

“The maximum term a Business Director may serve is three years without submitting for re-election and an Independent Director may serve two years without submitting for re-election,” said Mr Richardson.

ADF currently has two Business Directors who were elected at the 2014 AGM for a three (3) year term, these Directors must retire and may nominate for re-election.

Additionally, following the retirement of a past President in February, a temporary Business Director was appointed in May 2017 to fill the casual vacancy. As required by the constitution, the Business Director must retire and may nominate for re-election.

The Independent Director was elected in November 2015 for a two-year term and must retire, however may seek to be re-appointed for another term.
Director elections will take place at the ADF’s next Annual General Meeting on Thursday 24 November, 2017.

The eligibility criteria for the position of Business Director are:
• Must be in the business of dairy farming
• Must be a member of Australian Dairy Farmers Limited; and
• Must be eligible under clause 4.2.2 of the ADF Constitution (no more than two Business Directors from any one state)

If you wish to receive a nomination form or position description please contact the ADF Office via (03) 8621 4200 or email operations@australiandairyfarmers.com.au.

Applications close midday (AEST) Thursday 28 September 2017.

Terry Richardson

ADF President

 


 


 



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