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


United industry essential during challenging times

May 13, 2016

The past few weeks have presented unprecedented step-downs and claw backs to many farmers. The decisions made by our major processors are extremely disappointing and many farmers must now make difficult decisions about how to best navigate the current market conditions and support their farm.

Across the industry farmers are angry – and they have every right to be. The situation processors have put them in is completely unacceptable. Farmers are resilient and they love what they do. But they need certainty to be able to plan and to be able to trust that the prices they are budgeting on are realistic.

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) is working hard on behalf of farmers to signpost help for the short term and find solutions for the long term. This includes:

  • Listening to farmers to make sure we understand what they need most right now. We are working across the industry with our state farming members as well as national service provider Dairy Australia to deliver support, whether it be one-to-one financial guidance or mental health services.
  • Talking to processors, to urge them to help suppliers understand the implications for their businesses and to be accountable for this decision. ADF is pressing the manufacturers to provide early price forecasting. Farmers cannot plan for their businesses without reliable forecasting.
  • Making daily contact with both sides of Parliament, to explain the current and future challenges farmers face, and to seek commitments for targeted assistance.

There are no easy solutions to the challenges we face, but we are examining all options and are considering innovative solutions to build an industry with a stable, long-term future.

Central to this is finding ways to better manage price volatility across the sector, and urging processors to give greater certainty about milk price in a fair timeframe.

The support of government will be essential in better understanding the current situation and in delivering an effective response. As an industry, we need to ensure that we are realistic in expectations and that the solutions we put to them are in the best interests of our farmers and our communities for the long-term.

Our first priority is to provide practical support for farmers facing difficult decisions right now, to ensure that they can take control of their situation and make the best choice for their business and family.

Now is the time for our industry to unite, support one another through the tough times, and collectively consider innovative and practical solutions to help us achieve our vision of sustainable profitability.

Simone Jolliffe

ADF President

For information on programs available through Dairy Australia to help you through the short term challenges click here

March 2016 President's Message

Apr 04, 2016

2016 is proving to be a challenging year for dairy farmers. Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) recently visited members in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia, and across the country farmers are confronted with low milk prices, increased input costs, and dry weather conditions.

This continued volatility is a reminder of how dependent farming is on a lot of things which are outside our control.

Dairy farmers are realists and they are resilient business operators. Adaptability has become critical to successful dairy business ventures. Realistic solutions frequently involve working to address the issues we can control, while also accepting that some things are outside our reach. What those solutions look like will differ from one business to another.
The Sustainable Farm Profitability Report produced by the Australian Dairy Industry Council and Dairy Australia last year provides some useful tactical management advice to help safeguard businesses during this challenging period.
Through our discussions with both State and Federal Governments ADF continues to advocate for a more competitive business environment, and ensure access to the resources essential to dairying. Dairy industry advocacy has seen vital progress of late with the introduction of an ‘effects test’ as well as a review of the proposed ‘backpacker tax’ and bringing in more flexible water policy. These are important achievements that will help deliver a more profitable and sustainable industry in the long term.
Dairy Australia also has important resources to assist in preparation and recovery from different conditions. Services provided by programs such as the Tactics for Tight Times provide a good vehicle for analysing the individual business and developing solutions.
Integral to this future is ensuring we protect what matters, by working to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our workforce. In recent meetings, both processors and farmers have highlighted this issue as crucial to the future of our industry. I look forward to identifying ways in which our industry can support our people’s physical and mental wellbeing with many of you at the Australian Dairy Industry Council’s Business Breakfast in April.
With the ongoing challenges our industry faces exacerbated by drought and tough seasonal conditions, I encourage you all to look out for one another and provide assistance where you can.


Simone Jolliffe

ADF President

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