Senate must prioritise Water Bill

Apr 05, 2016

The Water Amendment Bill 2015 makes positive strides toward improving the Murray Darling Basin Plan, providing much needed flexibility.

It is essential that the Australian Senate passes the Bill when it returns to Canberra for its sitting starting 18 April. If the Bill does not pass before the election it will face significant delay, to the detriment of communities and industries in the Murray Darling Basin.

Without the flexibility the Bill provides, the States and Commonwealth will be locked into decisions in June that will likely lead to even more water being removed from agriculture and the communities that depend on irrigated industries like dairy.

In particular, the proposed amendments deliver more flexible timelines for reviews of the Basin Plan and related changes to the Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL), which determine how much water can be extracted from the rivers for human consumption, including agriculture.

The Bill also provides greater trading flexibility for the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH). This flexibility will deliver positive environmental outcomes while simultaneously giving the community, farmers and manufacturers more certainty on their access to water supplies.

The dairy industry has strongly lobbied for these changes, and supports their implementation.

Dairy farmers in the Murray Darling Basin have proved flexible users of water, steadily adapting their practices to produce more milk with less water over the last 20 years.

We need the Murray Darling Basin Plan and the law that sits behind it to have the same flexibility. The Basin Plan is already having a significant impact on farmers, manufacturers and the rural communities they support, with more to come as recovery deadlines approach.

If we are to continue to adjust to the inevitable changes in water availability and affordability we need a plan with clear, appropriate targets and approaches, that can also adjust. This will help deliver positive outcomes for the environment, community and industry.

Passing the Water Amendment Bill will provide the Murray Darling Basin community with the confidence that Canberra politicians are willing to improve the Plan in advance of considering decisions in June. 

At this time, the Commonwealth and State Governments will either make or break the Basin Plan. We need the Water Bill to pass to ensure the pending decisions under the Basin Plan this year are based on a foundation of flexibility.

Let your representatives know the importance of supporting the passage of this Bill through the Senate as quickly as possible by contacting your local, state and federal parliamentarians. See here to get the details of parliamentarians for your region.


 

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

Revised labelling progress toward a clearer system

Apr 01, 2016

The Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) has acknowledged the revised country of origin labelling system, announced by the Federal Government yesterday, as a positive move toward providing consumers with a clearer understanding of where their food comes from.

ADIC Chair, Simone Jolliffe said the industry provided significant feedback to the proposed system to Government, some of which is reflected in the announced laws. 

“We are pleased to see the revised laws will allow for a minimum transition period of two years. This will ease implementation for manufacturers, allowing stocks of existing labels to run out and help ensure that unreasonable regulatory costs are avoided,” Mrs Jolliffe said.

“It will also allow for the development of an education campaign to properly inform consumers about interpreting the new system, so that they can make sound choices.”

The ADIC also expressed its appreciation for the opportunity to state the percentage of Australian product under the revised labelling system.

“The increased flexibility of the sliding scale system as well as the accompanying descriptions of Australian ingredient content on packaging is a positive improvement.”

The ADIC looks forward to reviewing the full detail of the proposed changes to fully understand the impact on Australian dairy products and ensure implementation of the system works for consumers, customers and the Australian dairy industry.

‘Effects test’ another tool to balance market power

Mar 28, 2016

The announcement in March 2016 of an ‘effects test’ will strengthen competition across the grocery supply chain. ADF has advocated strongly for the change since 2011, which will be included in section 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

The provision will be a further tool to help the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) address the current unequal distribution of market power and encourage transparency to the benefit of producers, consumers and retailers.

ADF President, Simone Jolliffe said she looked forward to working with the government to ensure that the legislation prevents firms with significant market power from engaging in conduct that has the purpose, effect or likely effect of substantially lessening competition.

“The effects test is another tool to help provide integrity and transparency regarding the impact of retailer actions on suppliers,” Mrs Jolliffe said.

“In conjunction with the government’s introduction of the Food and Grocery Code, which included a large number of ADF’s recommendations, this is a constructive step toward fostering a more competitive business environment.”

“Further, the appointment of Mick Keogh OAM as the ACCC’s first Agricultural Commissioner and an Agricultural Engagement and Enforcement Unit, highlights that the government is committed to strengthening competition across the supply chain.”

Mrs Jolliffe said the reforms will support consumers’ interests as well as dairy farmers.

“Moving toward a more objective measure to assess the impact of anti-competitive behaviour will build a more open and transparent marketplace.”

ADF is hopeful that this will assist in preventing damaging practices, including predatory pricing in future.

ADF thanked the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, the Treasurer, the Minister for Small Business and the National Party for their strong support and action on this important reform.


 

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