Revised labelling progress toward a clearer system

Apr 01, 2016

The Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) has acknowledged the revised country of origin labelling system, announced by the Federal Government yesterday, as a positive move toward providing consumers with a clearer understanding of where their food comes from.

ADIC Chair, Simone Jolliffe said the industry provided significant feedback to the proposed system to Government, some of which is reflected in the announced laws. 

“We are pleased to see the revised laws will allow for a minimum transition period of two years. This will ease implementation for manufacturers, allowing stocks of existing labels to run out and help ensure that unreasonable regulatory costs are avoided,” Mrs Jolliffe said.

“It will also allow for the development of an education campaign to properly inform consumers about interpreting the new system, so that they can make sound choices.”

The ADIC also expressed its appreciation for the opportunity to state the percentage of Australian product under the revised labelling system.

“The increased flexibility of the sliding scale system as well as the accompanying descriptions of Australian ingredient content on packaging is a positive improvement.”

The ADIC looks forward to reviewing the full detail of the proposed changes to fully understand the impact on Australian dairy products and ensure implementation of the system works for consumers, customers and the Australian dairy industry.

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. 

Country-of-Origin Labelling: Is it really CoOL?

Apr 02, 2015

After the recent Hepatitis A health scare through contaminated frozen berry imports, the Federal Government has strengthened their commitment to bring changes to Country-of-Origin Labelling, or “CoOL”, laws in Australia.

While CoOL has the potential to assist consumers in deciphering the difference between products that are 100 per cent Australian-made and those containing only some local ingredients, the new laws could have greater ramifications on the Australian dairy industry. 

Below are some FAQ’s the ADF Update thought you might be interested in:

Why is CoOL important to get right for dairy?

Milk is the defining component of all dairy products and its conversion into the variety of cheeses, yoghurts, long-life milks, butter and infant formula in Australia requires a wide range of ingredients. Often these include very low amounts of rennet, starter, cultures, yeasts, vitamins and minerals to facilitate their functional transformation from milk into a product.

However, several of these ingredients are not produced in Australia either because the raw materials are not available, or they cannot be economically and sustainably manufactured here. Other ingredients in dairy products are imported because of seasonality or the need for continuity of supply.

If CoOL requires that use of the term “Australian” can only apply to 100 per cent Australian content and 100 per cent Australian production, then the implication is that only some white milks will be able to carry the Australian made label.

This would mean that most dairy products containing milk produced in Australia, by Australian dairy farmers and converted into Australian dairy products in Australian factories, employing Australian workers would not be able to claim Australian origin.

What is important for the new CoOL laws?

The Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) is lobbying Government to ensure that Australian dairy products made with Australian milk in Australian factories can be defined as Australian products under CoOL. The design of any new CoOL laws must provide for provisions such as:

  • Processing aids - minor ingredients necessary for processing should not be part of any percentage requirements relating to the significant ingredients.
  • Fortification for healthy Australian communities – the addition of vitamins and minerals not made in Australia to milks or infant formulas in order to promote health outcomes and meet consumer demand, should not prevent Australian dairy products being labelled as such.
  • Flexibility for seasonal/batch alterations – prescriptive percentages will not work when the origin of product ingredients can alter by season or even by batch, therefore some flexibility needs to be built into the requirements.
  • Trading protection – labelling requirements need to align with international regulations and trade agreements to ensure the Australian dairy industry is not disadvantaged against our key competitors.

What can you do to help influence dairy’s agenda in the Government’s push for “stronger” CoOL laws?

Dairy farmers, processors and industry representatives can take part in a consultation process that the Government has commenced. This will provide an opportunity for us to ensure that dairy’s interests are heard and considered. Click here for information about the Government’s consultation process and to register you interest.

You may also wish to write to your local MP to inform them of the industry’s requirements with CoOL. Click here for a short statement about the areas the dairy industry is seeking for Government consideration on.

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