Support for farmers during tough times

May 06, 2016

The challenges many dairy farmers will face as a consequence of downgraded milk prices and ongoing market volatility are of great concern and extremely disappointing.

Many farmers are already experiencing a challenging season due to dry conditions and high water prices - these announcements add further distress.

The health and wellbeing of our farming families and their staff is our number one concern. We encourage farmers to share and seek information among your networks. Start talking: to your bank, to your accountant, to your field services officer, to your partner, to your staff, to your neighbour.

If you are not a farmer, contact the farmers you know and ask them how they are coping.

The Australian dairy industry is working on a coordinated response for measures to help farmers make informed decisions and cope with their situation.

Discussions with Government, processors and banks are underway to ensure that the short and long term implications of the current situation are understood and considered.

Already, Dairy Australia is rolling out the Tactics for Tight Times program through its Regional Development Programs (RDPs), which helps provide clarity to farmers about settings and seasonal conditions, and supports key decision making on farms.

Local RDPs will deliver support programs, and put farmers directly in touch with other services, including mental health organisations.

Programs include one-on-one business assessment and support; technical workshops focused on business analysis and planning, feed and water budgeting, climatic outlook and cropping/forage strategies; and social and community support programs – including expanding the “Look over the farm gate” program.

Dairy Australia has prepared a guide for Building Emotional Resilience, listing support resources and also some key tips to help get you through difficult periods (available here:

Now is the time for farmers to focus on the things that can be controlled, take a step back, and make informed decisions based on current circumstances.

If you or your dairy business is facing challenging times, help is available from your representative bodies, your state dairy farming organisation and Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF), as well as Dairy Australia and your local RDP.

For more information on the programs delivered by your local RDP contact the relevant individual listed here.

Please continue to look out for one-another in these tough times.

ADF will continue to provide regular updates on industry initiatives to support farmers through this difficult period. 

Simone Jolliffe, ADF President

Caring for cows and calves is our first priority

Mar 23, 2016

Dairy farmers know that providing a safe, nutritious product starts and ends with caring for cows and their calves. This includes providing them a healthy diet, regular medical care and the right living conditions.

Part of keeping dairy cows and calves healthy involves separating calves from cows within their first 12 to 24 hours. This is to ensure the calves receive adequate colostrum, are protected from illnesses, which can be spread by manure from adult cows for example.

Once removed from the cow, calves are raised under shelter with suitable bedding in a clean, safe and warm environment.

In cattle the placenta of the cow keeps the maternal blood supply separate from that of the unborn calf. This prevents the transfer of antibodies from the cow to the calf before birth. For this reason, the calf is born with limited ability to fight disease.

By bringing the calves indoors, the farmer can make sure they receive at least two litres of colostrum at the first feed and another two litres within the first 24 hours of life. This ensure the calf can build its immunity. Calves left to suckle are less likely to build up their immunity.

Individual care is the key to a healthy and content calf.

Although many dairy farmers would like to raise male calves on farm, there are currently very limited alternative markets to sell the male calves to. The most common option for farmers, is to sell them as ‘bobby calves’ between 5 and 30 days of age. Another option is to rear the calves and sell them as dairy-beef. This option requires significant investment by farmers with the need to provide additional housing, feed and labour.

Our industry is always searching for alternatives, including through sexed-semen to reduce the number of male calves born but this does mean we need to have a market for the additional female calves. Further, we continue to explore market options for the sale of male calves.

Dairy farmers and the dairy industry understand that the practice of killing calves for the dairy-beef market is confronting. We take care of all animals on-farm to the best of our ability and in line with best practice; no calf is ever treated as a low-value by-product. Once calves leave the farm, we expect that they will be cared for and treated in a humane way.

The Australian dairy industry supports the draft Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle as well as the Land Transport Standards and Guidelines. These were developed in partnership with animal welfare groups and Government, and provide industry with clear animal health and welfare standards.

The dairy industry expects that all persons managing livestock abide by these standards and it is committed to working with farmers to ensure best practice is observed on farm.

ADF, in collaboration with Dairy Australia, and other industry partners continues to work closely with transporters and the meat industry to ensure our cows and calves are well looked after. We also continue to work with industry, Government and animal welfare groups such as the RSPCA to ensure the wellbeing of our herds in all farming systems.

For further information on the Animal Health and Welfare Standards and Guidelines, click here. To view the publication, “Rearing Healthy Calves – How to raise calves that thrive”, click here.

What does passing of Dairy Levy Poll Bill mean for levy payers?

Mar 21, 2016

The Dairy Levy Poll process is set to be streamlined following the passing of legislation in March 2016 to alter review procedures while retaining a strong democratic process for farmers.

The passage of the Bill provides certainty around the process for the 2017 levy review process and future reviews. Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) has welcomed the passage of the Bill, re-emphasising that this is not about removing Dairy Australia from scrutiny, but instead about streamlining the process and making sure every levy dollar invested delivers value back to farmers.

ADF thanked the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce and the Department of Agriculture for championing the Bill on behalf of dairy farmers, who voted to make the changes to the process in November 2015.

The changes mean that instead of a mandatory poll, every five years, an industry advisory committee will review whether there is a need to change the levy or conduct a poll. If no change in the levy is recommended, there will not be a poll. However, a poll must be held if it is recommended there be a change in the levy.

The changes also provide a mechanism to allow dairy farmers to request a poll with the support of at least 15 per cent of levy votes.

Now that the legislation is passed ADF will oversee the development of more in-depth procedures for the revised process.

For further information regarding the Dairy Levy Poll process review, visit

Levy poll changes get the go-ahead

Feb 29, 2016

The Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce, has supported changes to the dairy industry levy poll process, voted on by levy payers in 2015.

The Bill to amend the current Act was introduced to the lower house on 11 February 2016, and debated on 25 February 2016. Debate in the Senate commenced on 29 February and ADF currently awaits a final decision on the Bill.

“Australia’s dairy sector is an important and forward-looking industry, with good leadership and a strong vision for its future,” Minister Joyce said.

“Levy payers have demonstrated strong support for these changes, which will simplify and streamline the dairy levy process.”

Mrs Jolliffe said the changes are expected to result in a simpler, less costly levy poll process, while still ensuring accountability in spending levy funds is retained.

“This means these levy funds can be directed towards vital research, development and extension programs, increasing productivity and profitability and continuing to strengthen innovation within our industry.”

For more information on the levy poll changes please see

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