Collaboration key to dairy success

Jul 09, 2016

With the official announcement of last weekend’s election yet to be made, the dairy sector (like the rest of the nation) is watching very closely and working to ensure that all political parties understand our priorities. Whatever the outcome, it is essential that stability reigns – effective policy formation and clear action to overcome challenges will be otherwise impossible.

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) has made clear its priorities for the next government – extend and streamline access to the concessional loans and Farm Household Assistance for all affected farmers, create a safer, more resilient workforce, ensure secure sustainable access to water resources and above all, address the imbalance of market power within the dairy supply chain.

It’s good to see that all parties have recognised the importance of supporting our farmers through the current challenge, as well as committing to developing innovative solutions to building long term sustainability of our industry.

However, it is concerning to see some are still calling for a fresh milk levy – an unworkable solution. If a fresh milk levy was imposed, it would potentially result in farmers who supply domestic markets subsidising their export market oriented counterparts. This is not a workable solution.

There are also potential difficulties associated with such a levy breaching Australian Competition and Consumer Commission regulations as well as potential issues with the World Trade Organisation.

The fundamental issue our farmers continue to face is that they wear the bulk of financial risk in the dairy supply chain. We need a practical and viable solution to increase transparency in the way the milk pricing system works and to simplify milk contracts to ensure the volatility of the market is better balanced along the supply chain.

This week UDV and ADF met with farmers in South West Victoria – to hear concerns, answer questions and build feedback about the current supply chain into our policy work. This is one of many meetings ADF will continue to participate in throughout the year, to ensure we are effectively representing farmers’ interests.

The discussion was robust. Overall, the consensus in the room was that trust has been broken and we need to find a way forward.

The challenges faced by farmers in Western Australia due to processor decisions reinforce the sector as a whole is enduring tough times – no state is immune.

Collaboration is what will get us to where we need to be. Our industry relies on all the elements to operate effectively. Farmers need processors and vice versa – so the solutions will require input from all parties.

Beyond this the public and the government ignore us if we do not operate as one. If we have a hung parliament, dairy will need parliamentary champions to advocate our policy priorities and the industry must work together to feed them that case.

David Basham

Acting ADF President

John McQueen to help lead ADF forward

Jun 20, 2016

ADF has welcomed back well respected former CEO, John McQueen in an interim role after the departure of Benjamin Stapley, who resigned last week.

As CEO for over 20 years, Mr McQueen stepped down in 2007 – however dairy was never far from his thoughts as a senior agriculture advisor to past Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard and recently in his independent consultancy.

Prior to his time at the helm of ADF, John held the position of CEO at the Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme (ADHIS). John also spent time working with ABC-TV’s Science Unit, producing, researching and directing programs such as the first three series of Towards 2000.

Mr McQueen’s significant policy expertise, strong industry relationships and political connections are a very welcome addition to the team at ADF, which is working hard to support farmers through a period of unprecedented challenges.

Outcomes-focused, non-prescriptive is a mantra that John is proud of and will continue to be part his approach in his return to ADF.

 

 

Early pricing signals essential

Jun 10, 2016


Many in the dairy industry feel under enormous pressure at the moment. Farmers not only have the challenge of adapting their business plans to recent price shocks – we also pick up the paper to read about it every day. With more processors' opening milk prices due in coming weeks, following Warrnambool Cheese and Butter’s (WCB) announcement today, no doubt some will feel the pressure begin to mount once more.

We recognise that the announcement from WCB will come as a shock to many, given it is well below the cost of production. Despite the disappointing low price, we must recognise that they have heeded calls for early price signals and provided much needed certainty to their suppliers.

While we are an industry under pressure, we are also an industry that has the know-how and motivation to overcome these adversities and thrive in the long term. No one is alone in this scenario and we need to ensure that all farmers feel supported during tough times.

ADF, together with our state members and Dairy Australia is fighting for our farmers. We can’t solve all of the issues farmers are currently facing, but we can work to relieve some of the immediate pressures and accelerate change to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

We have welcomed the promises made by State and Federal Government, now they must stop playing politics and deliver. Farmers need certainty as to their options right now.

While we await Government decisions, there are industry resources available to help farmers manage the impact of recent events. It’s important to make the time to take up these opportunities. Dairy Australia’s Taking Stock provides free one-to-one business analysis that can help you prepare for the season ahead.

The Dairy Farmer Central website launched this week by the Victorian dairy industry, lists all of these tools and more. It also signposts events - some of these events will inform and help you plan for the season ahead, others provide an opportunity to take time out from the farm and get some perspective. We are working to make this website applicable Australia-wide.

These tools are not a silver bullet to restore our businesses but they will help navigate the challenges, so we can move toward a stronger, fairer and more sustainable future.

David Basham

ADF Acting President

Budget offers mixed bag for dairy

Jun 16, 2015

The 2015 Federal Budget announced on 12 May, delivered modest gains for agriculture. With initiatives aimed at supporting rural and small businesses such as tax breaks for those with annual turnover under $2 million, social and community support services for rural Australians, and drought relief assistance, dairy came out slightly better off than the year before.

On 27 May, ADF welcomed the announcement from Federal Government that it would bring forward the introduction of accelerated depreciation of fodder, fencing and water assets to the night of the Federal Budget, as opposed to 1 July 2016. This decision will greatly benefit farmers who have been recently impacted by severe floods and drought. ADF acknowledges the considerable effort of the Hon. Barnaby Joyce, Minister for Agriculture, in making this happen.

Key gains for dairy in the 2015 budget:

•Tax write-offs for fences and new water storage
•$25 million for assistance for drought affected areas to reduce the impact of pest animals
•$20 million towards social and community support services for emotional impacts on farmers. And an extra $1.8 million for more counsellors.
•Cattle Farmers in the north will see $101.3 million over the next four years for improved road infrastructure
•$25 million to towards assisting Australian producers access the benefits of free trade agreements
•Tax burden for small business will be reduced to 1.5 per cent for businesses with annual turnover under $2 million
•A 5 per cent tax discount for smaller, unincorporated businesses
•An immediate tax deduction of all assets under $20,000 will allow small businesses to invest in new tools or machinery.
•$3.7 million allocated to implement recommendations from the review into the integrity of the 457 Visa Program.

The budget also included money for drought grants and loan schemes, however, this is the same money that was previously allocated but not spent.
ADF would have appreciated the budget also address the lack of Agricultural Counsellor postings to assist with reducing technical barriers to trade within key international dairy markets. We also would like to have seen further Investment in agriculture R, D&E, CRCs, infrastructure for rural regions and biosecurity.

There is still an opportunity to address these issues in the upcoming Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper. ADF will continue to advocate and work with government to help ensure the budget allocations are used to maximise its benefit for the dairy industry. 


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