Progress and challenges revealed by dairy’s 2015 Sustainability Report

Mar 11, 2016

There is a rising demand worldwide for companies and industries to meet the needs of people today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Australia’s dairy farmers and manufacturers are proud to be part of a global movement which aspires to meet this demand, whatever understanding people have of sustainability.

One of the ways we demonstrate our whole-of-industry commitment to increasing prosperity for industry and communities, our care for people and animals, and minimising our environmental footprint is through the Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework.

Established in 2012 to help guide Australian improvement against 11 targets and 41 performance measures the Framework is lead by the Australian Dairy Industry Council, managed by an industry Steering Committee, and supported by Dairy Australia.

Our 2015 Progress Report shows our improvement, but also our challenges. During 2015 there were several areas of improvement including:

  • The industry’s efforts in helping the Government to secure Free Trade Agreements with China, Japan and Korea, will help increase our competitiveness and profitability;
  • The intensity of waste sent to landfill by manufacturers, which has dropped 46% since 2011, exceeding the target for 2020 several years ahead of schedule;
  • The proportion of farmers with nutrient management plans, which at 58% is on-track to achieve the 2020 target of 80%, having almost doubled since 2013; and
  • The reduction in the use of routine calving induction - 88% of farmers do not use it compared to 80% in 2014.

Although we made good progress against some targets, there are others where more progress is needed, such as increasing the proportion of dairy farmers who are aware of, and implement, the recently agreed (January 2016) standards and guidelines for animal welfare. Currently, awareness stands at 56% and our target for 2020 is 100%.

There are other areas where the industry’s performance has declined, such as the proportion of people who recognise dairy as a quality product, which slipped to 69% from a baseline of 72% (the 2020 target is 80%).

To ensure our industry remains current, relevant and accountable in the context of changing global and domestic conditions and expectations, a review of all the targets, indicators and performance measures in the Framework will be undertaken during 2016.

The review will take into consideration a broad range of emerging issues, stakeholder views, industry priorities, political agendas and global trends.

The ADIC is excited to share our progress thus far – it demonstrates just how powerful dairy can be when the whole supply chain works together toward its common goals.

We encourage you to take the time to have a look at the key areas that interest you in the online report and look forward to hearing your thoughts.

A snapshot of the Australia dairy industry and our sustainability progress...

Effects test remains priority

Feb 24, 2016

Competition law has been the focus of a Government overhaul over the past fiver years, with the intention of preventing situations such as the $1 per litre milk campaign – a damaging state of affairs for dairy farmers which highlighted the significant imbalance of market power between retailers and suppliers in the grocery supply chain.

In its discussion paper on the Options to Strengthen the Misuse of Market Power Law, Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) once again emphasised the need for an ‘effects test’ to be inserted into Australia’s Competition Law.

Without an effects test the current tactics and actions of the major retailers will continue to result in substantial lessening of competition in the market place. This means a significant impact on the viability of proprietary branded dairy products, less product variety on supermarket shelves, less choice and in the long term, higher prices for consumers.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) must be given the ability to examine the effect of such strategies, with particular emphasis on the impact on competition (including small businesses like corner stores and regional supply chains), consumer choice, farmer viability and future prices.

Of the six options proposed to amend the current misuse of market power provisions, ADF believes the most practical option proposes that the existing provision be amended by removing the words ‘take advantage’. The law would be amended with the wording, ‘purpose, effect or likely effect of substantially lessening competition’ test.

However, ADF does not agree with the inclusion of the ‘purpose’ element due to the practical difficulties of proving purpose. Inclusion of the purpose element and defence as outlined in the Harper Review recommendation 30 may make the effects test unworkable in reality.

An effects test is in line with competition policy around the world – almost all western nations, except for Australia and New Zealand have an effects test.

There is strong support for the proposed changes to the effects test, from competition experts, including the Harper Review Panel, the ACCC, former Chairmen of the ACCC, Rod Sims as well as small businesses, suppliers and farmers across Australia.

ADF will continue to advocate for stronger misuse of market power laws to foster a more competitive business environment. To view ADF’s submission to the discussion paper, click here.


 

 

New target for routine calving induction in 2016

Jan 25, 2016

Key Points 

  • National policy to phase out calving induction 
  • Improved breeding programs to lift fertility and support farmers through the policy change
  • Learning from NZ approach
  • Targeted assistance and advice to be provided to farmers impacted

Caring for cows is always a key priority for Australian dairy farmers and our industry. The industry is dedicated to providing a high standard of care for our animals, and to changing practices when in the best interests of our livestock. 

In April 2015, following a series of meetings and consultation with farmers, vets and processors the dairy industry agreed to phase-out routine calving induction nationally.

Revised Policy

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF), Dairy Australia, vets and processors have since been working on implementing the revised policy which is:

“ADF does not support routine calving induction and will work to phase it out through improved herd improvement practices, tools and technologies.”

Calving induction is already reducing in Australia and the dairy industry’s breeding programs such as InCalf and the improvement of fertility by genetic selection are making a difference.

A Steering Group, including dairy farmers, representatives from the Australian Cattle Veterinarians, Dairy Australia and the Australian Dairy Products Federation (ADPF), was established to progress the phase-out.

A data survey of veterinary practices performing inductions was undertaken in 2015. The results confirm estimates from previous farmer surveys that the number of cows induced is declining. It is estimated that in 2015 less than 1.5% of the national herd were induced (approximately 24,000 cows) however there is considerable variation between farms and regions.

The industry is now working to reduce even further the number of cows induced.

Target for 2016

After reviewing the 2015 induction data, ADFwill introduce a target for 2016 that routine calving induction will be limited to a maximum of 15% of cows within a herd unless a dispensation has been granted.

The 15% limit will apply unless a fertility management plan has been implemented or dispensation is granted for exceptional circumstances beyond a farmers control such as herd health issues, severe weather events (floods, fire), AB failure as well as other issues.

An 'Oversight and Engagement' Panel including representatives from ADF, the Australian Cattle Vets and ADPF has been formed. The panel, with support from Dairy Australia, will establish guidelines and consider requests for exemptions exceeding the 15% target set for 2016. Whilst there is no legal requirement on dairy farmers to achieve the 15% target the dairy industry is seeking to achieve industry-wide practice that is over and above the legal requirements and is confident farmers will adopt the recommended voluntary industry targets as the phase-out progresses.

Farmers will apply to the Oversight and Engagement Panel via their vet for special dispensation to carry out inductions in excess of the 15% limit for routine calving inductions.

The Steering Group will work with the Oversight and Engagement Panel to monitor progress and review the target each year in order to establish updated annual targets.

Industry Programs

Improving herd fertility is a fundamental requirement to reduce the need for routine calving induction and it also delivers many benefits for farm profitability and resilience. The industry is working closely with veterinarians and reproduction advisors to ensure advice and services are available to assist farmers with fertility management.

Industry programs such as InCalf, the Repro Right network and InCharge Workshops will be enhanced and the industry will provide targeted reproduction advice to those farmers most in need.

New Zealand

The New Zealand dairy industry has phased out routine calving induction over a period of time and has banned the practice as of 1 June 2015. The industry is liaising with counterparts in New Zealand to understand and learn from their approach; in particular the setting of annual limits with a dispensation process.

Late Calving Induction

A particular concern recognised by industry has been the use of late calving induction. ADF is aware that several veterinary practices no longer perform late calving inductions, as they provide no reproductive benefit. Late inductions (performed within 4-6 weeks of the due calving date) provide no overall reproductive benefit for the herd and should not be performed except for the welfare of the cow or her calf.

Early pregnancy testing is required by these practices to make sure late inductions are not occurring.

ADF will continue to consult with farmers, veterinarians, state organisations and other stakeholders to ensure that the timing, process and outcomes are right for animals and farmers.

*Routine calving induction is all non-therapeutic inductions

 

Trade reforms a positive kick start for 2016

Jan 23, 2016

Over the course of 2015, Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF), together with state members and industry partners has worked collaboratively with government to broker new trade deals which increase access to key Asian markets hungry for safe, clean and sustainable Australian dairy produce.

ADF welcomed the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which entered into force on 20 December 2015, followed quickly by a second round of tariff reductions on 1 January 2016.

Also on New Year’s Day, the Korea-Australia FTA progressed to its third year of benefits for dairy exporters, meaning further tariff reductions and increased quotas for a range of Australian dairy exports.

Similarly, the Malaysia-Australia FTA moved into its fourth year of implementation, translating to further increased liquid milk tariff rate quotas. The Thai-Australia and US-Australia FTA’s also celebrated a milestone in passing the 10 year point, and provided improved duty free quotas for Australian dairy.

Further to this, the finalisation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in late 2015, plus the late December announcement of an agreement to abolish government subsidies on agricultural exports through the World Trade Organisation.

The Australian dairy industry still faces challenges in its export focused markets, especially with regard to technical barriers to trade which translate to higher production costs, reduced product returns and restricted export demands all combine to lower milk returns for farmers.

With these challenges in mind, ADF is celebrating the progress made in trade reform to the long-term benefit of our industry. This progress boosts the industry’s competitive position in the global market and contributes to building confidence to invest in a strong future for Australian dairy.

For more information on ADF’s Markets Trade and Value Chain priorities, click here.

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