Retailers must do the right thing by dairy farmers

Oct 08, 2018

For nearly a decade, dairy farmers have been wearing the pain caused by discounted products, whether it’s $1 per litre milk or cheap cheese.

I remember when the first $1 per litre products went on supermarket shelves on Australia Day, 2011 and the outrage caused by the resultant “milk wars”.

Prior to this marketing campaign, the last time milk was $1 per litre was around 1992. But in 2018, it’s impossible to live on a wage set at 1992 levels.

Now there is momentum to turn things around and give value back to the dairy supply chain.

Some supermarket chains have announced plans to help drought-affected dairy farmers.

Woolworths plans to introduce a special range of milk priced at $1.10 per litre in mid-October. Homebrand 2L and 3L milk products are currently on shelves for $1.10 per litre until the drought-relief milk product launches.

Coles is now selling its 3L Own Brand milk products for $3.30, with the money collected to be distributed back to farmers via a fund with an application process.

Both have been upfront about the fact that their initiatives are only short-term measures that aren’t intended to solve the problem of discounted dairy products.

As President of Australian Dairy Farmers, I represent farmers all across the country. Many are calling me asking how they are eligible to receive a fair price from either of these plans.

The problem with both plans is that many regions of Australia affected by drought with high production costs impacting thousands of dairy farmers, yet most of those farmers won’t be able to claim a benefit from either initiative.

Coles has encouraged any dairy farmers to apply for a grant through their fund, but those in drought-declared areas will be given priority, while

Woolworths intends to distribute the extra 10c from their drought-relief milk back to farmers via their processor.

While I support measures that see farmers paid a reasonable price for their hard work and dedication, I must ask, “Is this really the best we can do?”

Certainly ADF and our state dairy farmer organisations believe all dairy farmers must see a benefit from any increase in retail milk prices.

Farmers put tireless effort and resources into producing a quality product. And it leaves a deep and lasting impact to see your hard work sitting on a supermarket shelf for less than the price of water.

This pricing practice is not viable and we urgently need a shared solution to assist in building the long-term sustainability of Australian dairy farmers.

Ultimately, we must push for a permanent end to discounted dairy products, whether it’s $1 per litre milk or cheap cheese.

There is a groundswell of support for farmers hit hard by the drought and supermarkets have the best opportunity to scrap their discounted dairy products right across the breadth and depth of the dairy cabinet.

The supermarkets know what farmers want. They know what they deserve. It’s now time for them to take a big step forward and do the right thing by ending this pricing practice.

But until that time comes, I encourage the public to help dairy farmers by continuing to buy branded dairy products.

- Terry Richardson, ADF President

Australia, we are in good hands

Mar 24, 2017

This week, ADF President, Terry Richardson, took part in his first Animal Health Australia (AHA) industry forum in Canberra.

The meeting was called to discuss a range of topics including the management of the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA), a unique contractual arrangement between Australia’s governments and industry groups to collectively reduce the risk of disease incursions and manage a response if an outbreak occurs.

Based on his first impression, Mr Richardson said the familiarisation and training offered to industry in the event of an outbreak is second to none.

“It is reassuring that as a collective we can come together with a shared goal of enhancing on farm bio-security practices and regulations.

“The degree of expertise and good management of our animal health and welfare issues means we are able to respond to any situation and manage any diseases to minimise their impact on farmers.

“This high level of preparedness is vital to show just how fast we, as an entire commodities industry, are able to respond to any outbreak should an issue arise”, said Mr Richardson.

Mr Richardson also took part in training for the National Management Group who have overall management responsibility in the event of an exotic disease incursion in Australia.

“The spread of the white spot virus in the SE Queensland prawn industry really highlights the threat posed to all agriculture from failing to maintain Australia’s strict biosecurity defence capabilities.

“It is important that we have adequate resources at the national and state levels, or we risk great (and increasingly) severe consequences.

“A large outbreak such as Foot and Mouth Disease would have significant repercussions and cost our economy up to $16 billion”, Mr Richardson said.

ADF has strong group of staff and farmers who are well prepared to respond to the threat of disease to safeguard the dairy industry and Australia’s reputation as a producer of safe, clean food.

In addition, resourcing of biosecurity remains a high priority for ADF and all industry bodies including AHA Industry Forum are encouraged to continue to pressure all governments in recognising this as a priority in the national interest.

John McQueen

Interim ADF Chief Executive Officer

 

Changing of the guard

Dec 22, 2016

As you may have heard, David Basham stood aside as ADF President last week for a period of three months. His decision to run for the Seat of Finniss in the South Australian State Government came about quite suddenly, we wish him every success with his campaign.

Another announcement was the appointment of Terry Richardson to act in the role of ADF President. Terry Richardson jointly operates a dairy farm with his family in Deans Marsh, south west Victoria, where he has lived since 2004 and has a 550-milking herd.

Terry was appointed as an Australian Dairy Farmers Business Director in November 2015 and was the logical choice for acting President due to his background and experience.

Holding several positions in the dairy industry, both in New Zealand and Australia, he was a director of Kiwi Co-operative Dairies for seven years as well as a dairy consultant with Agriculture New Zealand. After moving to Australia, he joined his local UDV branch and was later appointed to the South West Regional Extension Committee. He was previously Chairman of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Company and has been a director of the company for eight years, a role he still holds.

There has been some talk in media circles that Terrys position at the Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Company is a potential conflict of interest.

The ADF Board asked Terry to act as the ADF President during the period of leave David has taken from the ADF Board. Members of Boards of most organisations can occasionally have circumstances where there could be a possible conflict and the important thing is that the Board members recognise the possibility of conflict and manage it accordingly.

This year has presented unprecedented challenges for the entire dairy sector. ADF has remained focused on laying strong foundations that builds resilience rather than leaving farmers vulnerable and we will continue to advocate strongly on their behalf.

The events of 2016 have given ADF the opportunity to really cement our working relationships with state members - QDO, NSWFarmers, SADA, TFGA, UDV, WAFarmers, and industry partners such as Dairy Australia and Australian Dairy Products Federation.

Continuing to work together will give us the know-how and resilience to support dairy farmers to overcome adversity and thrive in the long term.

This season has been one of the kindest seasons we have had in many years. The extended season of grass growth has improved bottom lines and with world market prices continuing to strengthen over the second half of the year, things are looking much better for the future than they were mid-year.

May 2017 treat everyone in the dairy industry better than 2016 and we wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a safe, prosperous New Year.

Australian Dairy Farmers

 

Introducing ADF's New Director's...

Jan 18, 2016

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) is pleased to welcome new Business Director, Terry Richardson and Independent Director, Dr Dedee Woodside, alongside recently elected President, Simone Jolliffe to the ADF Board following the ADF Annual General Meeting on 26 November 2015.

With significant experience in various agriculture roles, as well as through their diverse industry leadership and advocacy roles, both Board members are exceedingly well qualified for their Board position, each bringing a unique perspective to the table.

ADF interviewed each Director to find out a bit more about them. We asked them what they believe the most important policy issues are for ADF to focus on in 2016...

Terry Richardson

As a native New Zealander I have great appreciation for the vast geographical challenges that Australian dairy farmers face. As a dairy farmer I know that it is difficult to prepare and mitigate these challenges unless we are building sustainable business models. In order to achieve this it is essential to be profitable. For these reasons I believe the short term and long term goals of ADF are intrinsically linked.

Our policy focus will always be set by what stands in the way of building a stronger future for our industry. This will mean the continued implementation of projects that propel us toward the industry’s vision to become prosperous, trusted and world renowned for nutrition.

In order to help achieve this vision, ADF can develop its communication of the role policy plays in helping us be profitable. Price will always be on the front page, but policy is always bubbling away behind the scenes – we often don’t hear much about it. Yet without strong policies that address everything from competition issues to research and development funding, it is impossible for our industry to be profitable. For this reason I am keen to work with ADF to continue to build our members and non-members’ understanding of how important policy is to what we do.

Through key achievements such as the pro-dairy China-Australia FTA we have seen how effective our industry is when united – we must continue this unity in order to see improved policy outcomes for our industry in future.

Dr Dedee Woodside

Dairy’s central focus for 2016 appears to increasingly be on water, soils and energy – and the availability, quality and sustainability of these resources.

I am attracted to the idea that with such a buzz around environmental responsibility and impact at the moment there is a real opportunity for the Australian dairy industry to make some headway on issues of concern to our farmers, processors and consumers. In particular with the recent Paris Climate Summit and the Australian Government’s commitment to energy targets we can highlight that this isn’t an overnight process. Our industry needs strong thought and planning to ensure we are achieving our environmental targets in a way that is reasonable and practical.

Already the industry has begun on this path, particularly in light of the growing opportunity in overseas markets and talk of expanding production. I am interested to contribute to this discussion, to understand whether growth is really a viable option and to understand what the limits are; where we can be smarter about our operations and where we need to change tactics entirely.

I am excited to be a part of ADF’s journey under a new President, Simone Jolliffe and a part of an industry that is growing, changing and opening up. The next few years will be very interesting.

ADF President, Simone Jolliffe welcomed the new additions to the Board and said she looks forward to working with them in 2016.

“Their vision and ideas will help ADF in its work to promote the interests and sustainable profitability of all Australian dairy farmers,” Mrs Jolliffe said.

For more information on ADF’s Directors see www.australiandairyfarmers.com.au

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