Shirley Harlock celebrated for contribution to industry

Nov 30, 2015

Victorian dairy farmer and advocate, Shirley Harlock has been recognised for her contribution to the Australian dairy industry, as the 2015 recipient of the Australian Dairy Industry Council’s (ADIC) Outstanding Service Award (OSA).

The OSA celebrates the lives and careers of industry participants whose contribution has significantly shaped the dairy community and beyond for the benefit of the whole value chain. The award was presented to Mrs Harlock at the ADIC’s annual Leaders Breakfast on 27 November 2015.

Outgoing ADIC Chair, Noel Campbell said Mrs Harlock continues to be a key player in shaping the policy landscape for Australian dairy.

“Shirley has a strong belief in advancing industry change through science and innovation. This has seen her advocate for the continued investment in research and development to industry, government and the broader community,” Mr Campbell said.

“For over four decades, she has been extensively involved with industry representation, helping to find practical, effective solutions to its challenges.”

Mrs Harlock has held local and executive positions with United Dairyfarmers of Victoria, and was a Director of Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF). She also served as Chair of Dairy Food Safety Victoria for ten years. In 2005, Mrs Harlock was appointed Chair of the Dairy Australia Future Dairy project, charged with research, development and adoption of robotic technology for Australian dairy farms.

In partnership with her husband John, Mrs Harlock continues to actively operate dairy farms in Warrnambool and support farms in South Australia.

Addressing a room filled with dairy leaders from across the whole value chain, Mrs Harlock took the opportunity to remind guests to ensure to be involved in finding shared solutions to the industry’s challenges.

“I live by the philosophy that, if you’re not involved, you’re part of the problem,” Mrs Harlock said. “I’m extremely proud to be a dairyfarmer. No industry could offer such reward, opportunity, support and encouragement – you just have to be prepared to avail yourself of it and be involved.”

ADIC Deputy Chair, Robert Poole and Outgoing ADIC Chair, Noel Campebll with 2015 OSA Winner, Shirley Harlock and her husband John. 

 

No change, no levy poll – you decide

Oct 05, 2015

It’s three years since Australian dairy farmers last voted in a levy poll to determine the level of contribution to Dairy Australia, the industry’s research and development body. Levy payers at that time approved the proposed levy increase of 10 per cent, but it was clear that the process was costly and distracting.

The 2012 levy poll process included over 50 meetings, took more than 15 months to complete, and cost in excess of $750,000 in levy funds. The time and money could have been better directed to delivering farm dollar value to dairy farmers.

In the wake of that poll, levy payers, Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) and industry stakeholders agreed there must be a better way. The Dairy Australia board agreed to a review that will simplify the levy poll process reduce costs and retain farmer’s rights to be consulted about changes to the levy.

The six-member independent Dairy Levy Poll Process Review Panel delivered its report earlier this year, with unanimous recommendations for a more streamlined, cost-effective dairy levy poll process. The panel’s primary recommendation is that a poll only be conducted when a change in the levy or the levy process is sought. In other words, “no poll if no change”.

This doesn’t mean that levy payers or industry won’t have a say. It’s also not about removing Dairy Australia from scrutiny. The report recommends a vital “failsafe” mechanism where farmers can initiate a poll, if they believe it’s necessary.

If levy payers believe a poll is necessary, they can initiate one by bringing together a group of levy payers representing at least 15 per cent of levy votes.This would activate a Dairy Australia General Meeting where 50 per cent of voters would need to resolve to hold a poll.

The critical thing for Australia’s dairy farmers is that to move to “no poll if no change”, we need to impress on the Federal Government that this proposition has broad industry support.

ADF is consulting with dairy levy payers, to ensure all are aware of the proposed changes and have the opportunity to make their thoughts known and have any questions answered.

We’re asking the question of dairy farmers at field days, processor events and State Dairy Farming Organisation meetings.

Starting in October 2015 there will be a simple poll of levy payers, asking for either a “Yes” or “No” vote in support of the independent panel’s recommendation to change the levy poll process. If the change is supported, ADF will take this endorsement to the Federal Government – specifically the Agriculture Minister – and we could see this change legislated before the 2017 levy poll is due.

This is not about limiting scrutiny of Dairy Australia. In addition to the “failsafe” recommendation, Dairy Australia will still be subject to independent review every five years. What we want is a sensible, cost-effective way to get the best value from the levy. Dairy farmers have that opportunity in front of them, and it can be realised with a simple show of support, right now.

 

 

Getting ChAFTA over the line requires united front

Sep 30, 2015

Getting the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) ratified will require farmers to show their communities what this opportunity means to them, according to Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) President, Noel Campbell.

Mr Campbell, along with representatives from the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) and the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF), was in Northern Victoria as part of a Regional Roadshow which kicked off on Monday 21 September.

The industry used the roadshow to ask as many farmers as possible for their help in getting the China agreement ratified before the end of the 2015 calendar year.

“Farm lobby groups are leading the push to get the deal passed through Parliament.ADF, in collaboration with the State Dairy Farming Organisations has been wearing a path to Canberra, lobbying both sides of parliament and the independent senators to highlight why this deal is important,” Mr Campbell said.

“The ChAFTA is under threat. We need farmers, processors, service providers and regional communities to help us get this deal over the line before the end of the year. We need your help to explain to your neighbours, friends and family why this deal matters for Australia.”

The regional meetings were well attended, with over 100 farmers attending for the first three events in West Victoria. Farmers from all commodities – not just dairy – attended the meetings, demonstrating that the entire farming community is well aware of what is at stake.

Tatura dairy farmer, Ingrid Tysoe said the ChAFTA was about building long term sustainable profitability.

“For farm security, things are going to be a lot better; this gives courage for us to work towards the future,” Ms Tyson said.

"I felt that the session was really informative and it's giving us hope that the dairy industry is looking brighter for us.”

Mr Campbell told attendees that it was essential to highlight that the ChAFTA is a good deal not just for farmers but for the Australian community.

“We worked hard to get a true ‘free trade’ agreement with the ChAFTA last year. With tariffs down to zero over the next four to 11 years on dairy products, we believe this has been achieved,” Mr Campbell said.

“The ChAFTA is a great deal for Australian dairy and a great deal for the Australian community. If ratified this year, the dairy industry alone will see growth in job creation across the value chain. We expect that around 600-700 jobs will be created within the first year of ratification. More dairy jobs means more vibrant, prosperous and growing rural and regional communities across all of Australia's dairying regions.

“I urge all of you to get on board to help us ensure that this deal is implemented this year so that our industry, as well as the broader community can start to take advantage of the benefits this deal brings.”

With meetings in Victoria to conclude on Tuesday 29 September, ADF plans to take the regional roadshow to Tasmania to spread the word about how farmers can help get ChAFTA over the line.


August President's Message

Aug 18, 2015

The Australian dairy industry has historically managed price volatility, global supply and demand issues and the fluctuations of the Australian dollar to good effect, maintaining international competitiveness, innovation and resilience to market volatility.

While we’re in volatile times, there is a lot more to be factored into the market in the next few months. Rather than panic, we need to ensure we are prepared for the short term difficulties facing us and remember that the long-term outlook for dairy is positive, despite current market volatility.

 

Industry needs to work to its strengths as a cost-efficient milk producer of quality dairy products in order to face the expected challenges. Within the industry there are considerable resources and work being applied to help dairy farmers confront the volatility challenge. Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) is working in partnership across the industry and with government to undertake work and analysis to support Australian dairy farmers in their decision making.

It is reasonable to ask why up until now the Australian dairy industry has not been affected to the same degree as New Zealand. Unlike New Zealand Australia has more the 50 percent of its production consumed domestically. This provides a dampening effect on the downward trend of international markets on farm gate pricing. Our product mix has also allowed for the pricing trends to be less severe. However, there is no doubt that this international pricing impact is placing downward pressure on expected farm gate pricing that was not even seen two to three months ago.

Those farmers who supply processors that are uncontracted and exposed to world export pricing should treat the 2015/16 season with a significant amount of caution, understanding their underlying costs and being aware of input costs which will affect profitability.

Whether you’re a farmer, state organisation or peak body, we are all striving for the same outcome – a healthy and sustainable dairy industry. Industry projects such as the Sustainability Framework and the Australian Dairy Vision help provide a strategy for ADF’s efforts. On this note, it is with great pleasure that I welcome Benjamin Stapley as incoming Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ADF. With a strong background in member advocacy, stakeholder engagement, policy development and media management, Mr Stapley comes into the role after two years as Director of Policy and Regulation at the Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association (PACIA).

I look forward to the fresh perspective and expertise that Ben brings to the role and along with my fellow Directors, National Council and staff look forward to working with him to continually improve the sustainability and profitability of farmers across all dairying regions. I hope you will all join me in welcoming Ben to our dynamic industry when he commences as CEO on 1 September 2015.  

Noel Campbell

ADF President

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