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

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

Increased support for financial counselling in drought stricken regions

Dec 22, 2015

More support has been announced for financial counselling in drought-stricken regions in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia. An extra $920,000 in funding has been provided for Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) providers in those States to continue to help farmers battling drought.

The funds are in addition to the $14.3 million Commonwealth funding already allocated to the RFCS programme in 2015-16.

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) has welcomed this support, acknowledging the financial counselling service as a vital part of supporting dairy farmers through challenging times, including drought. ADF highlighted that the service helps people take control of their business again rather than allowing their business to take control of them.

Agriculture needs as many financial counsellors as possible across rural Australia according to ADF, particularly as drought continues to challenge many dairy regions.

The RFCS can support farmers with business planning, farm debt mediation and helping them access sources of professional, industry and government assistance. The services can vary from one ten-minute phone call with a person to on-going support across a number of years.

The additional funding provided by the Commonwealth Government toward the counselling initiative will be crucial over the coming months as the pressures of drought compound continue.

ADF encourages farmers to utilise the service and to keep in contact with neighbours who may be struggling during this time.

To find out about RFCS offered in your region contact your State Dairy Farming Organisation or visit http://www.ruralfinancialcounselling.org.au/.


 

Report to strengthen farm profitability

Jul 19, 2015

A new report on the Australian dairy industry has identified efficient input use, strict cost control and sound management skills as the key areas of focus that can help all dairy farmers achieve better profits.

Commissioned by the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) and produced by Dairy Australia, the Sustainable Farm Profitability Report examines farm business profitability, pinpointing key drivers of successful dairying businesses and highlighting long-term strategies for success within farmers’ control.

Launching the report on Gippsland farmers’ Aubrey Pellet and Jaqui Morrison’s property on Friday July 3, ADIC Chair, Noel Campbell said that by benchmarking profitable and less profitable farms against one another the report would help identify areas for improvement on farm.

“Farmers may not be able to control the hike of electricity, fertiliser and fuel costs, which continue to squeeze margins,” Mr Campbell said.

“We can however control how well we use these inputs to control the costs which have a major influence on their bottom line.”

Macro drivers outside the farmer’s control, such as weather events, milk price volatility and government policy are put aside to provide a focus on the aspects of tactical efficiency, management capability and tactical flexibility decisions that farmers can make, to deal with risk and volatility.

Focusing on these elements under farmers’ control, the report highlights that every operation, big or small, has areas where it can improve to safeguard its profitability. No two of these farms are the same, which is why there is no “silver bullet approach” to profitable dairy farming.

Mr Campbell said that by using the resource document of tactical, strategic management guidance in conjunction with other resources, such as the new DairyBase tool from Dairy Australia, it was hoped that farm profitability could be lifted across the board.

Victorian Parliamentary Secretary for Treasury and Finance, the Hon. Daniel Mulino MP, officially representing Minister for Agriculture the Hon. Jaala Pulford at the event said that Government was keen to work with industry to ensure the future sustainability and profitability of the industry.

“We are committed to working with Australian Dairy Farmers, Dairy Australia and key dairy stakeholders to ensure this critical industry is focused on sustainable, profitable growth, and that farmers are supported to better understand their financial situation and to build financial flexibility to deal with volatility.”

To read the full Sustainable Farm Profitability Report click here.


 ADIC Chair, Noel Campbell with Vic Parliamentary Sec. For Finance and Treasury, Daniel Mulino, Federal Member for MacMillan, Russel Broadbent, Baw Baw Shire Council Member, David Balfour and Director of Gardiner Foundation, Bruce Kefford. Photo courtesy of Jeanette Severs.

Select Tags