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

 

United we are always stronger

Jun 24, 2016

Australian Dairy Farmers’ (ADF) first priority in recent months has been to secure support for our industry led initiatives, and targeted assistance from Federal and State Government to help see farmers through the short term cash flow crisis. It is frustrating that this has created the expectation of immediate relief yet some farmers are not eligible. We continue to lobby strong on farmers’ behalf to secure access for all affected farmers to Dairy Recovery Loans, now available in Victoria and Tasmania. We expect criteria to be released imminently in South Australia and New South Wales.

Many farmers have been calling the ADF and state dairy farming offices to discuss these assistance mechanisms, and highlight accessibility issues. We encourage all concerned farmers to keep these communication channels flowing as it is vital for ADF to know which issues to target.

As an industry, we are going beyond these short term measures to create stability for our industry’s long term future. Central to this is finding new ways to manage price volatility for farmers.

ADF in collaboration with our state members has long advocated the need for competition policy reform that addresses the unequal balance of market power in the supply chain with not only a Mandatory Code of Conduct to control said power, but also a Supermarket Ombudsman to effectively regulate the code. We have made important in roads in the last two years, but there is still work to be done.

Ideas developed through the Markets, Trade and Value Chain meeting last week are being progressed and work with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is gaining traction.

All three major political parties have come to the table to discuss potential solutions over recent weeks, and this is to be commended. It is essential that this movement does not stop at political rhetoric, but rather translate to real and tangible changes for our industry.

Ensuring issues that affect our entire sector’s ongoing productivity and competitiveness are on the Federal political agenda remains equally important during these tough times.

In particular, ADF continues to seek commitments from all political parties to support dairy’s access to secure, affordable water resources. While recent rainfall has been a welcome reprieve for many regions the long term outlook for water allocations remains bleak. ADF continues to push for vital changes to the Murray Darling Basin Plan and environmental water trading to make certain enough water is available when farmers need it and at an affordable price.

Funding for dedicated agricultural health services and resources is urgently required to safeguard the wellbeing of our workforce. Federal Government should make ongoing commitments to vital resources including the National Centre for Farmer Health to match that of State Government.

We continue to work closely with the National Farmers Federation to accelerate agriculture by addressing key workforce issues including the scrapping of the backpacker tax, as well as supporting industry’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions intensity.

Ensuring these priority areas are addressed in the upcoming election will enable our industry to take control of its own destiny, and develop a stronger, more prosperous and sustainable future.

Australian dairy farmers know we’re not immune to significant market forces such as the slowdown in the Chinese economy, or the Russian ban on importing product. But the low prices announced recently will be below the cost of production for many farmers. While some have faced such volatility before their current situation is no doubt compounded by the unprecedented challenges driven by processor decisions in the 2015-16 financial year.

ADF continues to work with all our state members - QDO, NSWFarmers, SADA, TFGA, UDV and WAFarmers as well as industry partners to hold State and Federal Government to their promises of support, and to drive real, meaningful change throughout the supply chain for the betterment of our industry. Together we are stronger than we will ever be divided – and united we will support farmers through the challenges they currently face.

David Basham

Acting ADF President

Stronger competition laws remain on agenda

Oct 30, 2015

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) is calling upon the Coalition Government to adopt stronger misuse of market power laws to foster a more competitive business environment.

While some business groups have suggested that stronger laws about the misuse of market power may have negative impacts on competition and innovation, these claims don’t withstand scrutiny.

ADF President, Noel Campbell said concerns that the introduction of an effects test could put consumers at risk were unfounded.
“These changes are about protecting consumers and competition from actions that substantially lessen competition in a market. These reforms are in consumers’ interests,’ said Mr Campbell.

“The Harper Review made it clear, the law as it stand is inadequate. The Government must not let self-interested businesses and organisations with excessive market share further limit competition to the detriment of consumers, farmers and the Government.”

ADF strongly supports the Harper Review’s recommendations for any updated competition and consumer law to include an effects test. ADF is advocating for certainty that the legal process is able to provide integrity and transparency regarding the impact of retailer actions on suppliers.

Almost all OECD countries already have an ‘effects test’ within their legislative schemes and there should be no trouble in drafting an appropriate test that protects the integrity of Australian market. ADF is hopeful that this will prevent damaging practices, including predatory pricing in future.

Addressing the misuse of market power is crucial in determining the Australian dairy industry’s future profitability and sustainability. Farmers need every opportunity to improve their negotiating power for profitability and returns at the farm-gate to be achieved.

Five new Ag Counsellors to help seize opportunity

Oct 12, 2015

The announcement of five new Agricultural Counsellors in overseas markets has been welcomed by the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) as a positive step toward addressing non-tariff barriers to trade.

The ADIC has been a strong advocate for increased resources toward overcoming technical barriers to trade in overseas markets and is pleased to see the Coalition Government’s acknowledgement of this issue.

A recent report commissioned by Dairy Australia, suggested that if the aggregated sum of all technical barriers to trade imposed by countries importing Australian product were reduced it could benefit global dairy trade by up to $1.57 billion. This amount includes the opportunity costs resulting from having technical barriers to trade in place as well as the potential gains from their removal.

ADIC Chair, Noel Campbell said the announcement of three new positions in Vietnam, Malaysia and the Middle East, as well as additional postings in Bangkok and China, would help the industry make the most of recent trade agreements as well as open up access to emerging markets.

“The appointment of these Counsellors will assist Australian dairy to promote its high quality, safe product in growth markets across South East Asia, the Middle East and of course China where there is growing interest in our products,” Mr Campbell said.

“It is also a further positive step toward addressing technical barriers to trade in international markets. The extent to which our industry is able to seize opportunities delivered through recently completed and pending trade agreements will depend upon addressing nontariff barriers. These Counsellors will help to improve the flow of Australian dairy products to international markets. It will also ensure that Australian dairy farmers can attain a fair price for their product.”

The ADIC continues to work with all overseas Counsellors, in conjunction with Government to promote Australian dairy overseas and ensure improved access to key export markets.

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