United we are always stronger

Jun 24, 2016

Australian Dairy Farmers’ (ADF) first priority in recent months has been to secure support for our industry led initiatives, and targeted assistance from Federal and State Government to help see farmers through the short term cash flow crisis. It is frustrating that this has created the expectation of immediate relief yet some farmers are not eligible. We continue to lobby strong on farmers’ behalf to secure access for all affected farmers to Dairy Recovery Loans, now available in Victoria and Tasmania. We expect criteria to be released imminently in South Australia and New South Wales.

Many farmers have been calling the ADF and state dairy farming offices to discuss these assistance mechanisms, and highlight accessibility issues. We encourage all concerned farmers to keep these communication channels flowing as it is vital for ADF to know which issues to target.

As an industry, we are going beyond these short term measures to create stability for our industry’s long term future. Central to this is finding new ways to manage price volatility for farmers.

ADF in collaboration with our state members has long advocated the need for competition policy reform that addresses the unequal balance of market power in the supply chain with not only a Mandatory Code of Conduct to control said power, but also a Supermarket Ombudsman to effectively regulate the code. We have made important in roads in the last two years, but there is still work to be done.

Ideas developed through the Markets, Trade and Value Chain meeting last week are being progressed and work with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is gaining traction.

All three major political parties have come to the table to discuss potential solutions over recent weeks, and this is to be commended. It is essential that this movement does not stop at political rhetoric, but rather translate to real and tangible changes for our industry.

Ensuring issues that affect our entire sector’s ongoing productivity and competitiveness are on the Federal political agenda remains equally important during these tough times.

In particular, ADF continues to seek commitments from all political parties to support dairy’s access to secure, affordable water resources. While recent rainfall has been a welcome reprieve for many regions the long term outlook for water allocations remains bleak. ADF continues to push for vital changes to the Murray Darling Basin Plan and environmental water trading to make certain enough water is available when farmers need it and at an affordable price.

Funding for dedicated agricultural health services and resources is urgently required to safeguard the wellbeing of our workforce. Federal Government should make ongoing commitments to vital resources including the National Centre for Farmer Health to match that of State Government.

We continue to work closely with the National Farmers Federation to accelerate agriculture by addressing key workforce issues including the scrapping of the backpacker tax, as well as supporting industry’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions intensity.

Ensuring these priority areas are addressed in the upcoming election will enable our industry to take control of its own destiny, and develop a stronger, more prosperous and sustainable future.

Australian dairy farmers know we’re not immune to significant market forces such as the slowdown in the Chinese economy, or the Russian ban on importing product. But the low prices announced recently will be below the cost of production for many farmers. While some have faced such volatility before their current situation is no doubt compounded by the unprecedented challenges driven by processor decisions in the 2015-16 financial year.

ADF continues to work with all our state members - QDO, NSWFarmers, SADA, TFGA, UDV and WAFarmers as well as industry partners to hold State and Federal Government to their promises of support, and to drive real, meaningful change throughout the supply chain for the betterment of our industry. Together we are stronger than we will ever be divided – and united we will support farmers through the challenges they currently face.

David Basham

Acting ADF President

January 2016 President's Message

Jan 25, 2016

Welcome to the New Year. I hope you have all had the chance for a short break at least, and are ready to work together to tackle the challenges and opportunities that 2016 brings.

In recent years, Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) has strengthened dairy’s ties with Canberra to raise the profile of the issues that matter most to our farmers. ADF has maintained our reputation of acting apolitically, being accessible to all politicians, and being willing to listen.

This year we will continue to build this profile, while simultaneously building on our capacity to deliver value to members.

So far in 2016, key members of the ADF team have visited members in central New South Wales. In February our CEO will visit Western Australia – to talk and listen about priorities for the year ahead. These are the first of many 2016 interstate meetings to follow.

I encourage you to take the opportunity and introduce yourself to our team. The passion and commitment that the ADF staff has to help achieve a stronger future for our industry is evident, and we are all prepared to listen to your thoughts, ideas and constructive feedback.

The beginning of the year has been challenging for farmers. Extreme weather conditions brought drought or very dry conditions in Tasmania, West Victoria, South Australia as well as savage bushfires in Western Australia. ADF is seeking to assist its state members with recovery efforts. I commend the efforts of WA Farmers, Western Dairy and Dairy Australia, in providing practical support and counsel to the affected farmers in WA.

Events like these are a timely reminder that so many aspects of our business are affected by elements beyond our control. ADF is committed to ensure that farmers have the information and resources they need to take control of what they can. Dairy Australia also has a great resource of tools and information to assist in preparation and recovery.

In February, ADF will host an environmental scanning and industry planning workshop with key stakeholders such as our state members and Dairy Australia. These sessions will aid in setting our advocacy priorities for 2016, to establish a sound policy platform which ensures we can capitalise upon growth opportunities delivered by 2015’s advocacy.

I look forward to getting out and about in order to meet with as many members and non-members as possible over the course of 2016 to ensure ADF can continue to deliver value for the industry.

Simone Jolliffe

ADF President

WA Bushfire Appeal

Jan 19, 2016

Since bushfires began burning in Western Australia (WA) in the week of 4 January, fires have significantly affected the Waroona-Harvey dairying region. Now three weeks on from the devastation, recovery assistance for farmers is the primary focus.

To support the recovery effort, WAFarmers has established a hay drive and is managing a relief appeal to collect cash donations for affected farmers. One hundred per cent of the funds raised through the WAFarmers Fire Appeal will go directly to farmers; ensuring financial assistance is available to farmers for tasks including the rebuilding of fencing and the purchase of feed.

WA’s Dairy Industry bodies, including WAFarmers and Western Dairy, have commenced preliminary assessments. There are approximately 20 dairy farms with direct fire damage and many more continue to be impacted by loss of power, burnt pasture and feed supplies.

Fencing is an immediate concern, with the fires destroying over 800 kilometers of farm fences, as well as loss of pasture and newly sown crops. There have been few reports of dairy stock loss to date.

Funds received through the WAFarmers Fire Appeal will be used directly to benefit farmers. Farmers do not have to be a member of WAFarmers to be able to receive assistance from the funds. We encourage the public to show support for the WAFarmers Fire Appeal.

The GoFundMe account can be accessed here.

Stronger competition laws remain on agenda

Oct 30, 2015

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) is calling upon the Coalition Government to adopt stronger misuse of market power laws to foster a more competitive business environment.

While some business groups have suggested that stronger laws about the misuse of market power may have negative impacts on competition and innovation, these claims don’t withstand scrutiny.

ADF President, Noel Campbell said concerns that the introduction of an effects test could put consumers at risk were unfounded.
“These changes are about protecting consumers and competition from actions that substantially lessen competition in a market. These reforms are in consumers’ interests,’ said Mr Campbell.

“The Harper Review made it clear, the law as it stand is inadequate. The Government must not let self-interested businesses and organisations with excessive market share further limit competition to the detriment of consumers, farmers and the Government.”

ADF strongly supports the Harper Review’s recommendations for any updated competition and consumer law to include an effects test. ADF is advocating for certainty that the legal process is able to provide integrity and transparency regarding the impact of retailer actions on suppliers.

Almost all OECD countries already have an ‘effects test’ within their legislative schemes and there should be no trouble in drafting an appropriate test that protects the integrity of Australian market. ADF is hopeful that this will prevent damaging practices, including predatory pricing in future.

Addressing the misuse of market power is crucial in determining the Australian dairy industry’s future profitability and sustainability. Farmers need every opportunity to improve their negotiating power for profitability and returns at the farm-gate to be achieved.

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