Reviews of supply contracts, pricing system underway

Jun 17, 2016

Dairy farmer representatives on the ADF Markets, Trade and Value Chain Policy Advisory Group (PAG) gathered in Melbourne this week to discuss a range of measures to establish a fairer, more transparent dairy market.

Simplifying supplier contracts and agreements featured heavily and methods to make them simpler and more transparent. Further to this the lack of transparency regarding milk pricing, and its ability to be retrospective is unacceptable and must be addressed.

The PAG also reviewed the methods to give clear, independent and credible market and price signals to dairy farmers and how this might be practically applied to the Australian dairy market.

Providing farmers with the right tools and resources to manage the opportunities and risks associated with a fluctuating dairy market was also a focus to help bolster the industry’s resilience in the long term.

Significantly, the meeting agreed upon the need to modernise the Australian industry’s pricing structures and contracts to recognise the complex operating environment that farmers face, to better balance financial risk along the supply chain. ADF is working with all state members, levels of Government and industry to achieve these endeavours.

ADF continues to press for the release of the full dairy support package as soon as possible and will update farmers as soon as this information is released.

We have had a couple of operational changes at ADF in recent weeks, with the resignation of ADF CEO Benjamin Stapley announced yesterday. The ADF Board has already taken steps to ensure that the role of CEO is well served in both the short and long term.

Contact has already been made with former ADF CEO John McQueen, now an industry consultant, to step into this important leadership role on an interim basis while the recruitment process is completed. Mr McQueen steps into the role as early as Monday morning and there will be a smooth, effective transition so no time is lost in fulfilling ADF’s mission to lobby for a stronger future for Australian dairy farmers.

These are unprecedented times and we need to ensure we have the right leadership balance to effectively address these issues, while not losing sight of other priorities important to building farmers long term sustainability.

The small team at ADF, remains committed to driving strong policy to transform the way our industry operates for the better.

Many farmers have been calling our offices in recent weeks seeking advice, assistance and information on what ADF is doing on their behalf. We encourage you to keep connecting with ADF to ensure we effectively represent your interests.

 

David Basham

Acting ADF President

Industry sustainability commitments recognised

Jun 14, 2016

Keeping Australian dairy in business for the long term. This was the catch-phrase of the Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework when it was first endorsed by the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) in 2012.

This long term thinking is especially relevant today, says the Chair of the Framework’s Steering Committee, Chris Griffin, a Gippsland dairy farmer.

“The Australian dairy industry is facing unprecedented challenges, yet securing our industry’s triple bottom line approach to sustainability remains as important as ever,” Chris says.

“Although the industry’s immediate priority is to support dairy farmers through the recent step downs, the Framework helps us keep an eye on the horizon. Importantly it tracks our progress and drives practice change where necessary to ensure the industry is sustainable for the long term.”

In June, the ADIC was recognised for its sustainability framework by the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) with its 2016 Organisation Leadership Award.

Judges said that the Framework was “exceptional and inspiring, particularly its whole-of-supply-chain focus; rigorous targets and reporting; impacts to date; stakeholder and community involvement; and communication”. They also recognised the Framework’s potential to act as a model for other whole-of-industry approaches for an even broader impact.

Further acknowledgement of the value of the Framework and support for dairy farmers’ commitment to sustainable production comes from Ian McConnell at WWF Australia, a member of a stakeholder reference group for the project, the Dairy Sustainability Consultative Forum.

“The value of the Framework is helping the dairy industry to know where the pressure points are coming from,” says Ian.

“By being in front of the issues, the industry can better shape its response. And when issues do emerge, such as pricing or producer profitability, it can be in more control and shape the conversation.

“It’s not just about the milk. The Framework helps Australian dairy to tell the wider story about the industry and its producers.”

Whenever a dairy farmer takes steps to improve their business or their practices, or reduces their environmental impact, they are contributing to the industry’s progress on sustainability under the Framework,” says Chris.

“The challenge is to make sure we are focussed on targets that will deliver the best outcomes for the industry, the community and the environment.”

For more information, visit www.dairysustainabilityoz.com.au

 

Dairy pays tribute to Max Jelbart

Jun 06, 2016

The industry has bid farewell to dedicated dairy advocate, Max Jelbart who sadly passed away in June.

Mr Jelbart, who farmed successfully in Gippsland and Caldermade, was an admired intellectual who shared his time and knowledge freely.

During his career in dairy, Max served on various industry boards and committees and was a supplier of Murray Goulburn for 38 years – and a director since 2012.

A Director on the ADF Board for seven years and a past President of the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria’s South Gippsland Branch, Mr Jelbart was this year presented with an Order of Australia medal for his services to the dairy industry and the community.

A Nuffield Farming Scholar and member of the Nuffield Australia Investment Committee, Mr Jelbart was renowned for seeking out new ways to develop his capacity as a farmer as well as opportunities to give back.

“Max was extremely passionate about helping to foster the next generation in dairy, and ensuring they had the right tools to grow their businesses,” ADF President, David Basham said.

“His readiness to share his expertise with industry and the community alike was inspirational – he was a tireless advocate and will continue to be remembered very fondly.”

On behalf of staff and representative leaders past and present, ADF expressed its deepest sympathies to Mr Jelbart’s family.

Friday 20 May ADF Update

May 20, 2016

As debate rages about milk price shock in the public sphere, it is essential that we don’t let the facts about the current challenges our industry is facing go astray.

The decisions made by some major processors, in particular Murray Goulburn and Fonterra, in recent weeks have hit Australian dairy farmers hard.

We can’t change what has happened, but we can work to take charge of the things within our control – that means providing support to equip farmers with the tools they need to help manage their current situation and finding ways to prevent this issue in future.

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) in collaboration with state members and Dairy Australia is providing targeted assistance. I encourage you all to take advantage of these resources by contacting your Regional Development Program (RDP).

Industry efforts will continue to support farmers during these challenging times, but in order for farmers to get through the short term ADF is seeking commitments from all parties to back our farmers during this financial crisis.

Ongoing discussion with all political parties, both state and national has delivered positive commitments from State government, particularly in Victoria and South Australia, to help farmers continue to operate.

We have met with Federal politicians this week to discuss support measures we need here and now, including one off grants for dairy farmers in exceptional circumstances, increased funding for the Rural Financial Counselling resources and streamlining access to existing government programs. A bipartisan approach to these solutions is essential.

Our priority remains delivering support for the short term but that doesn’t mean we aren’t considering solutions to prevent this issue from occurring again.

ADF has always advocated that there needs to be a better balance between retailers, processors and farmers. We are working with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to address these concerns. We were pleased to see that the ACCC’s Agricultural Engagement Unit heeded our call to investigate the processors actions in recent weeks and we will assist with that investigation where possible.

ADF is working with financial institutions to ensure farmers are treated fairly. The ANZ’s announcement is very encouraging, and we are confident other banks will take a balanced approach, if not provide a similar assistance package.

Farmers have been hit with a number of challenges but with the resilience we know this industry has, and the right support we will work through this and build a stronger future.

Simone Jolliffe

ADF President 

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