Industry sustainability commitments recognised

Jun 14, 2016

Keeping Australian dairy in business for the long term. This was the catch-phrase of the Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework when it was first endorsed by the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) in 2012.

This long term thinking is especially relevant today, says the Chair of the Framework’s Steering Committee, Chris Griffin, a Gippsland dairy farmer.

“The Australian dairy industry is facing unprecedented challenges, yet securing our industry’s triple bottom line approach to sustainability remains as important as ever,” Chris says.

“Although the industry’s immediate priority is to support dairy farmers through the recent step downs, the Framework helps us keep an eye on the horizon. Importantly it tracks our progress and drives practice change where necessary to ensure the industry is sustainable for the long term.”

In June, the ADIC was recognised for its sustainability framework by the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) with its 2016 Organisation Leadership Award.

Judges said that the Framework was “exceptional and inspiring, particularly its whole-of-supply-chain focus; rigorous targets and reporting; impacts to date; stakeholder and community involvement; and communication”. They also recognised the Framework’s potential to act as a model for other whole-of-industry approaches for an even broader impact.

Further acknowledgement of the value of the Framework and support for dairy farmers’ commitment to sustainable production comes from Ian McConnell at WWF Australia, a member of a stakeholder reference group for the project, the Dairy Sustainability Consultative Forum.

“The value of the Framework is helping the dairy industry to know where the pressure points are coming from,” says Ian.

“By being in front of the issues, the industry can better shape its response. And when issues do emerge, such as pricing or producer profitability, it can be in more control and shape the conversation.

“It’s not just about the milk. The Framework helps Australian dairy to tell the wider story about the industry and its producers.”

Whenever a dairy farmer takes steps to improve their business or their practices, or reduces their environmental impact, they are contributing to the industry’s progress on sustainability under the Framework,” says Chris.

“The challenge is to make sure we are focussed on targets that will deliver the best outcomes for the industry, the community and the environment.”

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Unprecedented times calls for unprecedented response

May 27, 2016

The dairy market shock is the result of unprecedented circumstances, and they require an unprecedented response from our industry.

In a leadership collaboration with our state members , we have driven positive policy responses and commitments from the Commonwealth and State Governments in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) have strongly advocated the Commonwealth for immediate solutions to help farmers, who have been placed in an extremely difficult situation by the actions of these processors.

We believe these Government responses are broadly positive and reflect the immediate needs of the most affected dairy farmers, but we also need to understand more detail before we can effectively endorse them as being of most value to dairy farming businesses.

ADF sought interest rate assistance for farmers from the Commonwealth and we believe the adapted concessional loan scheme for dairy farmers flagged by Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce will help address this need.

But we do need more urgency in implementation to support continuity for many farmers.

More resources for Rural Financial Counselling is a significant gain and will help to ensure dairy farmers are making decisions based on the best available and most accurate information about their business.

Further support for Dairy Australia’s Tactics For Tight Times initiative and streamlined access to various Government services will also directly benefit farm businesses.

However, we will continue to press for exceptional circumstance recovery grants and to ensure all assistance measures are available to all dairy farmers.

While we understand and support the intent of the proposed dairy price index, we have concerns about how this will work in practice.

And in the dry conditions affecting much of Australia’s dairy production zone, we will continue to press for the release of Commonwealth-owned environmental water.

While we must manage the here and now, our attention is also looking to the longer-term, to better manage volatility and safeguard the future of our industry.

ADF has always advocated that there needs to be a better balance between retailers, processors and farmers.

We continue to pursue processors and governments to ensure milk agreements from 1 July are more equitable, more fair and more transparent for farmers. Equitable competition policy is essential to achieving a better in risk between supplier, retailer and processor.

ADF is calling for:

  • All political parties to support an Effects Test in section 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act to assist the ACCC in taking a longer term view of issues and discovering the true impact for consumers, farmers and others of strategies undertaken by those with significant market power.
  • Higher penalties and harsher remedies are necessary to deter and reprimand those who misuse market power. Applying a legislated base fine that is a significant percentage of the revenue derived from the sales affected by anti-competitive behaviour is warranted.
  • That the Federal Treasurer give direction to the ACCC to undertake an immediate investigation of the pricing of milk at $1 per litre for a potential breach of section 46, of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 in relation to predatory pricing, particularly in regional and remote areas.
  • It is important in any commercial relationship that acceptable and ethical business be promoted and undertaken. It is ADF’s belief that enacting a statutory duty of good faith in the Competition and Consumer Act will assist in ensuring this takes place. ADF understands that recent case law has provided a framework upon which a statutory duty of good faith could be based.

Dairy farmers are not asking for a return to past days of a highly-regulated market, and they are not asking for consumers to be punished with a tax as proposed by some on the fringe of our industry.

Our industry is resilient, we know about volatility, and with the right support we will be better positioned to manage for long-term profitability and productivity.

David Basham

ADF President


Protecting workforce wellbeing

Apr 14, 2016

Implementing formal occupational health and safety plans on farm is not just the right thing to do, it can also benefit businesses, guests heard at the Australian Dairy Industry Council’s (ADIC) Business Breakfast in April.

Addressing an audience of dairy farmers, manufacturers and industry leaders at the event themed ‘Protecting what matters: ensuring the health, safety and well-being of our workforce’, an expert panel explored the opportunities for dairy to improve its workforce safety and well-being.

The panel included Dairy Australia’s Program Manager for Industry Workforce Planning and Action, Bill Youl, Worksafe Victoria’s Bruce Gibson, Lion’s Leader for Safety and Well-being Josh Norton, Field Services Manager at Fonterra Robyn Mitchard and Director of the National Centre for Farmer Health, Dr Susan Brumby. Mr Youl observed that, as well as being the right things to do, safeguarding the workforce makes sense for farm profitability.

“A safe work environment will ensure accidents are minimised, productivity is enhanced and the full benefits of farm and manufacturing facilities realised. Our physical and mental well-being is intrinsically linked to our industry’s success,” Mr Youl said.

ADIC Chair, Simone Jolliffe encouraged the industry representatives in the room to take leadership and drive a culture shift to safeguard the sustainability of the industry’s workforce.

“Dairy farms are not typical workplaces. There are many potential risks, and stressful situations – particularly because we are often operating in a family environment, where there is the added pressure of the day-to-day challenges of running a small business,” Mrs Jolliffe said.

“Dairy Australia is already working with state safety regulators and dairy manufacturers to provide farmers with the tools and training they need to operate safely. As an industry we need to work more collaboratively to ensure uptake and implementation, to move the workforce from ‘knowing’ to ‘doing’.”

The Dairy Industry’s Sustainability Framework has set targets for the industry to achieve by 2020. One of the targets is 100% of on-farm and manufacturing workers to have completed Occupational Health & Safety training by 2020. A further target is zero workplace fatalities. Mrs Jolliffe said the industry is falling behind on both accounts.

“Tragically there have already been two confirmed workplace fatalities in our industry this year. Workplace injuries have also risen. Across Australia, one in five people suffering with mental health challenges. This is not acceptable. We need to lead the industry in prioritising health, safety and well-being – for the benefit of our industry.”

The ADIC made a commitment at the breakfast to drive change across the industry through improved collaboration between service providers, processors and industry representative bodies. For information about occupational health, safety and well-being see

The expert panel from left to right, Bruce Gibson, Susan Brumby, Josh Norton, John Versteden, Robyn Mitchard and Bill Youl.


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.

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