Making the most of Canberra

Mar 31, 2017

On Wednesday, Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) were in Canberra to discuss a range of issues with Ministers and Members of Parliament.

Throughout the day, ADF had the opportunity to discuss what is working well within the industry and to discuss what else needs to be done.

Our advocacy and policy work is at the heart of everything we do and is essential to ensuring Australian dairy remains competitive and well aligned for growth.

These meetings give us the opportunity to pursue important industry policy priorities and to reaffirm relationships with Ministers.

The main issues discussed included:

  • The progress on the draft Code of Practice;
  • The impact of technical barriers to trade (TBT) on the Australian dairy industry’s international trading opportunities;
  • Access to overseas workers to fill our workforce labour gaps;
  • Pathways to permanent residency for New Zealand born dairy farmers; and
  • Reiterating our support for the Effects Test currently before Federal Parliament. 

ADF continues to advocate for policies which will support the industry and we will continue to seek Government support to help drive innovation, which increases productivity and profitability.

We’re committed to ensuring the voice of the dairy is heard by highlighting the issues to Government and working with them on important reforms.

John McQueen

Interim ADF Chief Executive Officer


 

 

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

 

What a gas

Mar 03, 2017

It is no secret that gas prices are on the rise.

An essential resource, gas is used to pasteurise milk and produce the heat needed for our driers to create milk powder.

Gas is already a significant input cost for dairy processors in Australia. Based on reports, gas prices are forecast to rise between 50-100 per cent by 2019. This will impact the processing of dairy and increase the manufacturing costs of milk products. The impact of any gas price rises can and will be felt by dairy farmers through their processors.

The rise in gas prices are due to supplies being diverted to meet international liquefied natural gas supply contracts, low levels of exploration and forecast production, restrictions on onshore exploration and development in some states and territories, and infrastructure constraints. Tighter gas supply translates to higher gas prices.

As the laws of supply and demand would suggest, Australians, sitting on bountiful gas reserves, should be enjoying cheap gas prices. But that’s not the case as a high percentage of our gas is being exported overseas.

Further to this, last year, the Victorian Government with bipartisan support banned unconventional gas exploration, including the controversial process of hydraulic ­fracturing (fracking), and extended a morat­orium on onshore conventional gas exploration until the end of the decade.

New South Wales and Tasmania also have various bans on onshore gas exploration and development in place. This means that the competition by domestic and international consumers for gas from existing fields will intensify, which will drive up prices further.

There are surely many policy levers that can be considered in this environment. One such lever was implemented more than 30 years ago, and formalised in 2006, as the North West Shelf offshore gas production was being developed. The WA Government implemented a policy of domestic reserve of 15 per cent to ensure their domestic market was not adversely impacted from the development of export markets.

It is understandable why many communities and farmers are concerned with hydraulic ­fracturing (fracking), and why there was bipartisan support to ban this type of unconventional gas exploration. However, we support onshore conventional gas mining which currently has a moratorium and, according to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, is needed as insufficient reserves exist for domestic and international demand.

In response, the COAG Energy Council will be implementing a package of reforms. Even so, there is still uncertainty whether sufficient gas will be available to meet future domestic demand.

The dairy industry along with other manufacturers are concerned about the policy failures in Australia when it comes to gas availability and prices. We need to add our voice to the growing list of industry groups who are calling for urgent action to address the shortage of gas on the domestic market.

John McQueen

Interim ADF Chief Executive Officer

 

Lessons learnt from the Senate Inquiry

Feb 09, 2017

Last week ADF were asked to speak at the Senate Inquiry in Shepparton, Victoria.

Before it was our turn, we listened to a number of dairy farmers from the region offer valuable insight into an industry that has seen its fair share of hard knocks.

Centred around a few general themes, the dairy farmers talked about having greater transparency between processors and suppliers, contract fairness, and a lack of faith with industry body leadership.

Firstly, we believe that the dairy industry needs improved contracting arrangements between farmers and processors; greater transparency through earlier and clearer pricing signals for farmers; and less risk for farmers and more balance in risk along the supply chain.

In relation to greater transparency, ADF is in the final stages of completing the draft Code of Practice. We have worked in consultation with our state member organisations, farmers and processors, and the ADIC to develop a Dairy Industry draft Code of Practice for contractual arrangements to help ensure greater transparency and fairness in milk supply and pricing. This will also minimise the chances of what happened in April/May last year being repeated.

ADF believes that it is important that contracts are fair, simple, realistic and easily understood by both parties ensuring there is more balance for farmers along the supply chain. The Code of Practice will help ensure that supply agreements and contracts comply with the Unfair Contracts law that came into effect on 12 November 2016.

This unfair contracts legislation extends existing protections against unfair contracting practices and is a practical step, that when coupled with the dairy industry Code of Practice, will provide dairy farmers with fairer and more transparent contracts.

ADF will continue to work with farmers, processors and our industry bodies to build a system that builds resilience, rather than leaving farmers vulnerable.

Lastly, while it is important to acknowledge the things we do well as an industry it is also important to recognise the things that we could do better. The farmers have spoken and we have listened.

While we are busy working on and achieving important outcomes for farmers, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes that we don’t often communicate to our members well enough. We hear this and are endeavouring to do better.

It’s also important to note that the ACCC Inquiry into the Dairy Industry has started. If you are a dairy farmer and can attend one of the public forums the ACCC needs to hear from the ‘horse’s mouth’. The key issues to be considered in the Inquiry include competition between milk processors, the effects of private label products and pricing, contractual practices, availability of price, global markets and key factors influencing the profitability of dairy farms.

 

The next public forums will be held on:

  • Tuesday 14 February 2017, Traralgon, VIC
  • Monday 27 February 2017, Warrnambool Golf Club, Warrnambool, VIC
  • Tuesday 28 February 2017, Shepparton Golf Club, Shepparton, VIC
  • Thursday 16 March 2017, Mercure Sanctuary Golf Resort, Bunbury, WA
  • Monday 20 March 2017, Hahndorf Football Club, SA
  • Wednesday 22 March 2017, Burnie Golf Club, Camdale, TAS

 

For more information and to register your interest please visit https://consultation.accc.gov.au/compliance-enforcement/accc-dairy-inquiry-farmer-consultation-forums/

John McQueen

Interim ADF Chief Executive Officer

 

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