Support for farmers during tough times

May 06, 2016

The challenges many dairy farmers will face as a consequence of downgraded milk prices and ongoing market volatility are of great concern and extremely disappointing.

Many farmers are already experiencing a challenging season due to dry conditions and high water prices - these announcements add further distress.

The health and wellbeing of our farming families and their staff is our number one concern. We encourage farmers to share and seek information among your networks. Start talking: to your bank, to your accountant, to your field services officer, to your partner, to your staff, to your neighbour.

If you are not a farmer, contact the farmers you know and ask them how they are coping.

The Australian dairy industry is working on a coordinated response for measures to help farmers make informed decisions and cope with their situation.

Discussions with Government, processors and banks are underway to ensure that the short and long term implications of the current situation are understood and considered.

Already, Dairy Australia is rolling out the Tactics for Tight Times program through its Regional Development Programs (RDPs), which helps provide clarity to farmers about settings and seasonal conditions, and supports key decision making on farms.

Local RDPs will deliver support programs, and put farmers directly in touch with other services, including mental health organisations.

Programs include one-on-one business assessment and support; technical workshops focused on business analysis and planning, feed and water budgeting, climatic outlook and cropping/forage strategies; and social and community support programs – including expanding the “Look over the farm gate” program.

Dairy Australia has prepared a guide for Building Emotional Resilience, listing support resources and also some key tips to help get you through difficult periods (available here: http://www.thepeopleindairy.org.au/announcements/emotionalresiliencefactsheet).

Now is the time for farmers to focus on the things that can be controlled, take a step back, and make informed decisions based on current circumstances.

If you or your dairy business is facing challenging times, help is available from your representative bodies, your state dairy farming organisation and Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF), as well as Dairy Australia and your local RDP.

For more information on the programs delivered by your local RDP contact the relevant individual listed here.

Please continue to look out for one-another in these tough times.

ADF will continue to provide regular updates on industry initiatives to support farmers through this difficult period. 

Simone Jolliffe, ADF President

ADHIS Update: Dairy cow fertility trends improve

Apr 04, 2016

 

After 20 years of declining dairy cow fertility, the genetic trend has turned around and improved every year since 2011. It is now about 5% higher than cows born in 2011, and similar to cows born in 1996.

 

This finding and others are reported in the latest Herd Improvement Report, published recently by the Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme (ADHIS) and the National Herd Improvement Association of Australia (NHIA).

Michelle Axford from ADHIS said this was an example of the gains that can be made through increased emphasis of fertility in Australian selection indices, particularly in the Balanced Performance Index (BPI) and Health Weighted Index (HWI).
 
“We can expect further gains as the focus on fertility in the indices has increased further in the past couple of years,” she said.
 
“We are now seeing the direct benefits on farm. Cows with higher daughter fertility ABVs get back in calf sooner – that is they have higher 6-week in calf rates.”
 
Michelle said the simplest way to improve the genetics of herds for fertility was to choose bulls from the Good Bulls Guide or app with a high Daughter Fertility ABV (>104). She said recent research had given dairy farmers more choice for bulls with better fertility ABVs and more confidence in those bulls.
 
“The reliability of the Daughter Fertility ABV has improved significantly and there are more bulls with much higher Daughter Fertility ABVs to choose from. This is the outcome of collaborative work between ADHIS and the Dairy Futures CRC,” she said.
 
To find out more about the changing dynamics of Australian dairy herds, download the Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Report 2015 from www.adhis.com.au. For more information contact Michelle Axford at ADHIS, ph (03) 8621 4240 or maxford@adhis.com.au.




 

February President's Message

Feb 29, 2016

There has been a lot of discussion about investment for a stronger future this month, with a great deal of excitement generated by recent investments in Australian dairy.

Such investment will have positive impacts for farming communities.Investors may be interested in further value added opportunities for milk processing. This could be a generator of new growth and development for the whole industry. Investment that passes our foreign investment regulatory tests continue to the benefit of Australian dairy.

Importantly, our industry recognises that this stronger future depends equally on economic, environmental and social outcomes. Dairy continues to hold itself accountable by not waiting for change to occur, but by initiating positive change ourselves. The industry’s progress is highlighted by the Sustainability Framework’s 2015 Progress Report – set to be released shortly via www.sustainabledairyoz.com.au.

It was my great pleasure to discuss the industry’s performance against the key targets with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in late February at the Canberra Dairy Forum, and to share more about our industry’s commitment to retaining our social licence to operate.

I encourage you all to take a look at the Progress Report when it is released in mid-march and provide feedback.

Part of tackling sustainability challenges and helping the industry demonstrate performance to the Australian community, is investing in agile representative structures. On the heels of a period of significant policy achievement, ADF is in the strongest position it has ever been. Much of this we owe to our 2012 restructure which helped build greater transparency and engagement with key stakeholders, particularly decision makers in government.

We recognise that there is room to further improve our representative models, to ensure that we can continue to effectively advocate on behalf of all dairy farmers in all dairying regions. The proposed National Farmers’ Federation’s restructure has begun this conversation and ADF looks forward to furthering this discussion to ensure dairy representation has a future that maintains currency, relevance and accountability.

Simone Jolliffe

ADF President

January 2016 President's Message

Jan 25, 2016

Welcome to the New Year. I hope you have all had the chance for a short break at least, and are ready to work together to tackle the challenges and opportunities that 2016 brings.

In recent years, Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) has strengthened dairy’s ties with Canberra to raise the profile of the issues that matter most to our farmers. ADF has maintained our reputation of acting apolitically, being accessible to all politicians, and being willing to listen.

This year we will continue to build this profile, while simultaneously building on our capacity to deliver value to members.

So far in 2016, key members of the ADF team have visited members in central New South Wales. In February our CEO will visit Western Australia – to talk and listen about priorities for the year ahead. These are the first of many 2016 interstate meetings to follow.

I encourage you to take the opportunity and introduce yourself to our team. The passion and commitment that the ADF staff has to help achieve a stronger future for our industry is evident, and we are all prepared to listen to your thoughts, ideas and constructive feedback.

The beginning of the year has been challenging for farmers. Extreme weather conditions brought drought or very dry conditions in Tasmania, West Victoria, South Australia as well as savage bushfires in Western Australia. ADF is seeking to assist its state members with recovery efforts. I commend the efforts of WA Farmers, Western Dairy and Dairy Australia, in providing practical support and counsel to the affected farmers in WA.

Events like these are a timely reminder that so many aspects of our business are affected by elements beyond our control. ADF is committed to ensure that farmers have the information and resources they need to take control of what they can. Dairy Australia also has a great resource of tools and information to assist in preparation and recovery.

In February, ADF will host an environmental scanning and industry planning workshop with key stakeholders such as our state members and Dairy Australia. These sessions will aid in setting our advocacy priorities for 2016, to establish a sound policy platform which ensures we can capitalise upon growth opportunities delivered by 2015’s advocacy.

I look forward to getting out and about in order to meet with as many members and non-members as possible over the course of 2016 to ensure ADF can continue to deliver value for the industry.

Simone Jolliffe

ADF President

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