Collaboration key to dairy success

Jul 09, 2016

With the official announcement of last weekend’s election yet to be made, the dairy sector (like the rest of the nation) is watching very closely and working to ensure that all political parties understand our priorities. Whatever the outcome, it is essential that stability reigns – effective policy formation and clear action to overcome challenges will be otherwise impossible.

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) has made clear its priorities for the next government – extend and streamline access to the concessional loans and Farm Household Assistance for all affected farmers, create a safer, more resilient workforce, ensure secure sustainable access to water resources and above all, address the imbalance of market power within the dairy supply chain.

It’s good to see that all parties have recognised the importance of supporting our farmers through the current challenge, as well as committing to developing innovative solutions to building long term sustainability of our industry.

However, it is concerning to see some are still calling for a fresh milk levy – an unworkable solution. If a fresh milk levy was imposed, it would potentially result in farmers who supply domestic markets subsidising their export market oriented counterparts. This is not a workable solution.

There are also potential difficulties associated with such a levy breaching Australian Competition and Consumer Commission regulations as well as potential issues with the World Trade Organisation.

The fundamental issue our farmers continue to face is that they wear the bulk of financial risk in the dairy supply chain. We need a practical and viable solution to increase transparency in the way the milk pricing system works and to simplify milk contracts to ensure the volatility of the market is better balanced along the supply chain.

This week UDV and ADF met with farmers in South West Victoria – to hear concerns, answer questions and build feedback about the current supply chain into our policy work. This is one of many meetings ADF will continue to participate in throughout the year, to ensure we are effectively representing farmers’ interests.

The discussion was robust. Overall, the consensus in the room was that trust has been broken and we need to find a way forward.

The challenges faced by farmers in Western Australia due to processor decisions reinforce the sector as a whole is enduring tough times – no state is immune.

Collaboration is what will get us to where we need to be. Our industry relies on all the elements to operate effectively. Farmers need processors and vice versa – so the solutions will require input from all parties.

Beyond this the public and the government ignore us if we do not operate as one. If we have a hung parliament, dairy will need parliamentary champions to advocate our policy priorities and the industry must work together to feed them that case.

David Basham

Acting ADF President

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

 

South Coast Flood Recovery Assistance

Jun 07, 2016

Since heavy rains and wild winds hit the south east cost on 5 June, flooding has significantly affected dairying regions in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania. These floods have added further issues to the industry which is already dealing with significant strain and instability.

The Australian dairy industry has mobilised quickly to provide farmers with support. 48 hours on from the damaging events, recovery assistance is the primary focus. We are working to understand the full impact of the floods to ensure targeted assistance for farmers. 

We are working to ensure farmers have adequate access to clean water and power to enable them to keep milking. Farmers are working to protect and care for their animals during these extreme events. Unfortunately, there have been reports of cows being lost to the floods and we empathise with farmers having to face this difficult situation.

Fencing is also an immediate concern, with the high water speed having destroyed many farm fences, as well as loss of pasture and newly sown crops. 

Please see below for information on seeking flood recovery assistance, further updates will be made as the information is made available: 

If my property has been affected, what should I be doing?

  • Try to focus on your priorities by writing a quick checklist of all the jobs that come to mind – classifying them by what needs to be done today, this week and later in the month. Download your Dairy Australia ‘recovery priority list’ here.
  • Take photos of the damage on your property to build up an inventory of losses (i.e. pumps, fencing, feed, etc).
  • Keep records of damage on your property until Helplines become available. Accurate and timely information will help the relevant departments secure the best possible level of disaster assistance.
  • Keep all your receipts associated with recovery efforts.
  • Remember to ask for help. 

What other support is there to assist me?

  • Find out about the options for milking without electricity supply here
  • Find out how to manage the health and welfare of cows during floods here.

 


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.




 

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