What We Really Need Now

Aug 19, 2016

The Four Corners ‘Milked Dry’ program aired Monday 15th and highlighted the financial toll that cheap dairy products and fluctuations in both the domestic and global markets have taken on dairy farmers. This state of crisis has also shown just how far consumers will rally to help our struggling industry, but it will only solve half the problem.

What we really need now is to go beyond short term measures to create stability for our industry’s long term future. The need for transparency and improved fairness by finding new ways to manage price volatility for farmers; and through simplifying supply contracts so farmers know exactly what it means and how it will affect them.

The first in a series of formal talks with the dairy industry, the Prime Minister Malcom Turnball, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and representatives of Murray Goulburn met to discuss ways to increase the profitability of the Australian dairy industry in order to support farming families and their communities. An important thing to take away from this meeting is the fact that the Australian Government and Murray Goulburn both agreed that Australia’s dairy farmers deserve fair returns at the farm gate, as well as transparency in milk price arrangements and supply contracts. Another important outcome was the role Murray Goulburn will play in explaining to their suppliers what steps they will take to support farmers and restore confidence to the dairy sector.

We expect a similar message and outcome of next week’s meeting between Fonterra’s Australian management and the Government who will continue to discuss the state of the dairy industry and how the current issues could be avoided in the future.

The last in the series of talks is the dairy symposium to be held in Melbourne on August 25, chaired by Minister Joyce with representatives from the farming, processing and retail sectors. We will be asking the government to formally review a number of high priority issues including $1 milk, fair contract terms and conditions, and a world dairy commodity pricing index.

At ADF, we are working closely with state members and dairy farmer representatives to make sure the government continues to strengthen the industry through consultation with both Australia’s dairy farmers and processors. We are committed to provide innovative and practical solutions to help farmers achieve a sustainable level of profitability and ensure that our farmers’ best interests are reflected in the work we do so they can take control of their situation and make informed choices.

One of the ways the government is helping dairy farmers is by providing assistance through a $579 million support package. This package includes access to Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans, Farm Household Allowance (FHA), the Rural Financial Counselling Service and an additional $900,000 for Dairy Australia to roll out ‘Tactics for Tight Times’ one-to-one farm business advice.

The government support package is there to help us through this difficult time. It is very important that dairy farmers, including farm owners, share-farmers or leasers not self-assess their eligibility for government assistance. If you have any questions relating to whether you are eligible for the concessional loans, please contact a financial counsellor or the relevant state delivery agency as they will be able to help you with information and the application process.

David Basham

Acting ADF President  


 

 

Collaboration key to dairy success

Jul 09, 2016

With the official announcement of last weekend’s election yet to be made, the dairy sector (like the rest of the nation) is watching very closely and working to ensure that all political parties understand our priorities. Whatever the outcome, it is essential that stability reigns – effective policy formation and clear action to overcome challenges will be otherwise impossible.

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) has made clear its priorities for the next government – extend and streamline access to the concessional loans and Farm Household Assistance for all affected farmers, create a safer, more resilient workforce, ensure secure sustainable access to water resources and above all, address the imbalance of market power within the dairy supply chain.

It’s good to see that all parties have recognised the importance of supporting our farmers through the current challenge, as well as committing to developing innovative solutions to building long term sustainability of our industry.

However, it is concerning to see some are still calling for a fresh milk levy – an unworkable solution. If a fresh milk levy was imposed, it would potentially result in farmers who supply domestic markets subsidising their export market oriented counterparts. This is not a workable solution.

There are also potential difficulties associated with such a levy breaching Australian Competition and Consumer Commission regulations as well as potential issues with the World Trade Organisation.

The fundamental issue our farmers continue to face is that they wear the bulk of financial risk in the dairy supply chain. We need a practical and viable solution to increase transparency in the way the milk pricing system works and to simplify milk contracts to ensure the volatility of the market is better balanced along the supply chain.

This week UDV and ADF met with farmers in South West Victoria – to hear concerns, answer questions and build feedback about the current supply chain into our policy work. This is one of many meetings ADF will continue to participate in throughout the year, to ensure we are effectively representing farmers’ interests.

The discussion was robust. Overall, the consensus in the room was that trust has been broken and we need to find a way forward.

The challenges faced by farmers in Western Australia due to processor decisions reinforce the sector as a whole is enduring tough times – no state is immune.

Collaboration is what will get us to where we need to be. Our industry relies on all the elements to operate effectively. Farmers need processors and vice versa – so the solutions will require input from all parties.

Beyond this the public and the government ignore us if we do not operate as one. If we have a hung parliament, dairy will need parliamentary champions to advocate our policy priorities and the industry must work together to feed them that case.

David Basham

Acting ADF President

Nation-wide roadshow kicks off in Tasmania

Jun 17, 2016

Representatives from Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) embarked on a series of national roadshows beginning in Tasmania on 4 May, in partnership with state dairy farming members.

Comprised of a series of farmer focused forums across the course of 2016, the roadshow offers farmers the opportunity to engage with national and state dairy member representatives on the issues most important to them and their region.

The roadshow is also an opportunity to get up to speed on progress and developments which have occurred over the past year, as well as talking through the industry’s election priorities for 2016.

ADF Senior Policy Manager, David Losberg said the regional forums would provide farmers with the opportunity to discuss the issues of critical importance to their region.

“Our industry is experiencing unprecedented challenges at present and we want our members and the public to engage with us, and ensure their interests are effectively represented. Our aim for these forums is to help provide clarity on the policy support mechanisms secured on farmers’ behalf and facilitate opportunities to make recommendations for future improvements.”

“Now more than ever it’s important that our farmers know who is representing their interests, and that we are tirelessly working on your behalf with minimal resources to gain the results farmers need to be successful in businesses and provide succession opportunities.”

Since May, ADF has visited dairy regions in Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland. Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation President, Brian Tessmann said the forums were a valuable opportunity for members to air their thoughts and express their needs to the people who represent them.

“The ADF Roadshows are always useful and insightful for our Queensland farmer members. The most recent events in Warwick and Maleny were extremely timely and helpful for our members who had a number of national industry questions given the situation down south.”

“It is important that we continue to work closely with ADF to continue getting results for our members at a national level and events such as these ensure that ADF have the opportunity to hear directly from Queensland farmers.”

The next roadshow forum takes place in Western Australia on 26 July. For more information on the roadshow schedule or any other details please contact Shona McPherson, ADF Media Officer via media@australiandairyfarmers.com.au or mobile 0447 293 844.

 

Representatives from ADF and QDO speak with farmers at the Maleny Dairy event in June. 

 

 

Support for all farmers - no exceptions

Jun 03, 2016

Dairy industry leaders are united around a clear objective: to ensure every Australian dairyfarmer has the capability, tools and support to fully understand their individual business position, and to make decisions about their future based on sound evidence.

The release of Dairy Australia’s Situation and Outlook report last week reinforced that there are tough times ahead – but also that with collaboration, empathy and leadership, measured policy responses and effective support from government, consumers and our own supply chain, we can work towards a stronger future.

To prepare for the next season farmers must have earlier and clearer pricing signals, with a more equitable pricing system that better balances risk along the supply chain of farmers, processors and retailers. Without this, farmers and allied businesses will remain vulnerable. ADF and our state members continue to urge processors to urgently communicate their opening price as soon as possible.

Commonwealth and State Government support in Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia has bolstered programs to strengthen pathways for dairyfarmers and enhanced our ability to support the health and wellbeing of our own. We need detail on these announcements as soon as possible and have been pressing governments to release the criteria for the Dairy Recovery Concessional Loans scheme immediately.

As the industry’s peak body, our longer-term resolution includes significant policy ambitions. We need a more equitable pricing system that better balances risk along the supply chain of farmers, processors and retailers.

To help farmers here and now it is crucial that the full suite of support measures be available to farmers across all dairying regions, as processors begin the process of setting milk prices to be paid from July 1. All dairyfarmers, not only Murray Goulburn and Fonterra suppliers, must have access to these measures. ADF has made this clear in our discussions with Government.

We are aware that the current challenges concern sharefarmers and dairy farm employees too. Dairyfarmers who have previously been ineligible for government assistance due to their permanent residency status are also on our radar. Ensuring our industry can retain skilled, experienced employees is key to safeguarding our future – a message we are taking to Canberra, to ensure all aspects of our workforce, and their needs in this unprecedented circumstance are not forgotten.

As the details are made more clear we will contact our members. We encourage you to keep reaching out to ADF, as well as your state dairy farming organisation and regional development programs to access support.

David Basham

ADF President

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