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.”

For more information, visit www.dairysustainabilityoz.com.au

 

Early pricing signals essential

Jun 10, 2016


Many in the dairy industry feel under enormous pressure at the moment. Farmers not only have the challenge of adapting their business plans to recent price shocks – we also pick up the paper to read about it every day. With more processors' opening milk prices due in coming weeks, following Warrnambool Cheese and Butter’s (WCB) announcement today, no doubt some will feel the pressure begin to mount once more.

We recognise that the announcement from WCB will come as a shock to many, given it is well below the cost of production. Despite the disappointing low price, we must recognise that they have heeded calls for early price signals and provided much needed certainty to their suppliers.

While we are an industry under pressure, we are also an industry that has the know-how and motivation to overcome these adversities and thrive in the long term. No one is alone in this scenario and we need to ensure that all farmers feel supported during tough times.

ADF, together with our state members and Dairy Australia is fighting for our farmers. We can’t solve all of the issues farmers are currently facing, but we can work to relieve some of the immediate pressures and accelerate change to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

We have welcomed the promises made by State and Federal Government, now they must stop playing politics and deliver. Farmers need certainty as to their options right now.

While we await Government decisions, there are industry resources available to help farmers manage the impact of recent events. It’s important to make the time to take up these opportunities. Dairy Australia’s Taking Stock provides free one-to-one business analysis that can help you prepare for the season ahead.

The Dairy Farmer Central website launched this week by the Victorian dairy industry, lists all of these tools and more. It also signposts events - some of these events will inform and help you plan for the season ahead, others provide an opportunity to take time out from the farm and get some perspective. We are working to make this website applicable Australia-wide.

These tools are not a silver bullet to restore our businesses but they will help navigate the challenges, so we can move toward a stronger, fairer and more sustainable future.

David Basham

ADF Acting President

Argibusiness Outlook 2016 to focus on global demand for Aussie produce

Apr 11, 2016

The Agribusiness Outlook Australia event will explore the strategies for primary producers to access and leverage the global demand for Australian produce. With sessions exploring how to access overseas markets, how to establish a reputable brand, and how to strategically position your organisation for success, this event will provide a platform to share best practice examples, innovative approaches and other strategic ways to secure a profitable and productive future.

In particular, the event will explore the tools to make Australia the next global supplier, due to the considerable economic expectation pinned on the growing appetite for Australian produce.
 
High international demand is great news for the security of Australian agribusiness. For example, when Coles dropped Bega Cheese in February for its private label cheese manufacturing and packaging this could have been detrimental for Bega if it had no further opportunities to access even greater revenue.
 
The dairy producer responded to the change in supply arrangements with Coles by redirecting their supply to other markets, like China, and rapidly growing their infant formula and nutritional platforms to attract much greater margins. Bega’s Chief Executive, Aidan Coleman, has noted that the strong global demand for infant formula will offset the loss of the Cole’s contract, estimated to be around $130 million.
 
Prior to the terminated contract, Bega’s share price had surged more than 42 per cent after announcing a joint venture with Blackmores to develop branded infant formula and sell into China. The positive results attained from the early stages of the Bega/Blackmore partnership indicate a prosperous future for the two companies, and endless possibilities for Australian agribusiness.
 
However, not all producers could bounce back from such an unexpected loss. Transitioning to high-margin products and bigger markets requires significant resources and investment. But this does not limit access to overseas markets to only those who hold noteworthy resources.
 
Bulla Dairy Foods are a great example of how even small business can access markets and opportunities overseas. Although it will still be a few years before Bulla can focus more of their business with China, they are currently preparing by innovating and building a competitive export portfolio to unlock and maximise the benefits available.
 
The Agribusiness Outlook Australia is a not-to-be-missed forum that will examine, amongst other topics, how to leverage global demand through a diverse collection of case-studies including from Bega Cheese, Graincorp, Coles and Bulla Dairy Foods, with the overall intention to secure a productive, profitable and successful future for all Australian agribusiness.
 
For more details about the conference please download the brochure 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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