Setting the Foundations for Long Term Solutions

Oct 28, 2016

Earlier this week, ADF spoke at the Senate Economics References Committee inquiry into Australia’s dairy industry.

We discussed a number of key historical points and highlighted long term solutions we believe will relieve some of the pressures faced by our dairy farmers.

Through consultation with our state member organisations, we proposed a number of solutions:

- The development of the Code of Best Practice on milk supply contractual agreements to ensure transparency and fairness in milk price arrangements

- To ensure that the ACCC review identifies and investigates sharing risk along the supply chain, supply agreements and contracts, competition, bargaining and trading practices in the industry and the effect of world retail prices on profitability

- Incorporating an effects test to show the impact of anti-competitive behaviour

- The implementation of a world dairy commodity pricing index and educational program for farmers to better understand the impacts of the world market price and impact on the domestic market

We reiterated the fact that although the dairy industry has gone through a difficult time, we are a resilient industry with a long, sustainable future ahead and our profitability depends greatly on the continued support of the Australian public.

Which takes me to my last point. The proposed 50 cent milk levy.

Yesterday evening I took part in an extended interview with a major TV network. On several occasions I stated that ADF did not support a levy being applied to drinking milk (50 cents or otherwise).

The 20 cent quote came from a completely different part of the interview (which was not aired) yet edited in a way that was out of context with the questioning. I said, it would be good if Coles were to increase the price of $1 milk by at least 20 cents.

Media does not always represent the facts and important messages can get lost in the push for ratings and dramatic intrigue.

We have contacted Channel 7 News to clarify that the impact of its editing together two different part-answers to two different questions has effectively contributed to misleading Australian consumers.

It is unfortunate when these things happen. Incorrect information leads to confusion in a time when we need open and transparent messaging. Our priorities have always been to work to strengthen the dairy industry’s foundations so we can achieve long term stability.

To get through this difficult period the industry needs strong leaders with one voice.

ADF together with our state member organisations believe a united vision is the key to achieving positive outcomes going forward.

David Basham

Acting ADF President


 

 

It is a win win situation

Oct 07, 2016

Collaboration is the key to get us where we need to be. Our industry relies on all the elements to operate effectively. Farmers need processors and vice versa – so the solutions require all of us to come together to ensure a positive future. It is a win win situation.

It is one thing to constantly pick apart the industry to highlight the problems, it is another to actually work together to bring about real solutions to ensure this never happens again.

Last week the Australian Dairy Farmers held an important meeting with state dairy organisation presidents and processors to address a range of contractual issues which farmer organisations have been trying to address and rectify for 15 years.

During the meeting we discussed a range of topics including the difficult circumstances of farm gate price reductions, the introduction of new legislation on unfair contracts which comes into effect in November and the outcomes from the August Symposium held by Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce.

This meeting provided an ideal opportunity for the dairy industry to unite and develop a voluntary industry wide code of practice on contractual arrangements with farmers.

The code will include:

  - greater transparency in contracts and supply agreements

  - ensuring a pricing formula or a price setting mechanism is clearly defined within a contract

  - ensuring pricing adjustments to farmers throughout a contract are clearly defined and that there will be no retrospectivity

  - while acknowledging step ups do occur and step downs have occurred in severe circumstances, a principle should be incorporated into contracts which clearly outlines that as much notice as possible is necessary if a step-down has to occur

  - ensuring farmers should receive all payments that accrue over the term of a contract or supply agreement – the final payments of a contract should not be contingent on the farmer being a supplier when, for example, the June payment is made in mid-July

  - ensure that where a processor has a contracted volume limit or a different price for volume above a particular level then exclusivity of supply to that processor must not occur

  - ensuring there is a clearly defined mechanism for giving notice of termination of a contract

  - ensuring there is a clearly defined mechanism of how contract terms and conditions can be modified and the farmer having the right to a negotiated variation, not simply a request from the processor.

Incorporating these principles into a code of conduct will give farmers, or their representative, the opportunity to have a contract or supply agreement which is truly negotiated and not simply an agreement which is a “take it or leave” it approach to farmer’s milk supply arrangements.

The ADF together with the state member organisations have worked hard since the crisis unfolded to ensure future milk supply agreements are balanced, fair and transparent. It has been a long process to get to this stage and a major breakthrough for the entire industry.

State dairy farmer organisations have been working to achieve these improvements for many years. By having a national organisation which is well resourced the States can achieve things together that would be impossible to achieve on their own.

We plan on finalising the draft code as soon as possible, ahead of the new legislation and before the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission inquiry into the dairy industry is finalised next year.

Now more than ever, the dairy industry needs to remain focused and united in its goals to achieve a shared vision of improving the profitability and sustainability of dairy farmers and the entire dairy industry in Australia.

David Basham

Acting ADF President

 

 



The Difference is in the Detail

Sep 23, 2016


Over the last few days, New Zealand based Fonterra lifted its forecast milk payout for the second time. On Wednesday the estimated Farmgate price was boosted by a further 50 NZ cents to $NZ5.25, while the company maintained its dividend payout to farmers resulting in a total amount of $NZ5.75 to $NZ5.85 per kilogram.

Australian companies are between 10 – 20 per cent below New Zealand’s latest forecast. 

While Fonterra's announcement follows the increased global dairy prices at the Global Dairy Trade auctions, Australian farmers are still waiting for theirs. Although there are any number of reasons why we are behind New Zealand, it still makes for an interesting conundrum when Australia has a bigger domestic market and yet our prices remain unadventurously low.

This really highlights how volatile the world milk price is and why we need regular, clear and realistic market signals in Australia.

By establishing a commodity milk price index tool there will be greater transparency to allow farmers to make their own assessments on milk price forecasts. Farmers will be able to better balance risk along the dairy supply chain, especially when it comes to managing the effects of world milk prices.

New Zealand already has a milk price index and it works quite well, as they have over 90 per cent exports, and can set themselves against the world market.

In Australia we have a 65 per cent domestic market and a different export commodity mix which should deliver a higher price for Australian farmers than the New Zealand price in a low commodity market as we are in now. Therefore, Australia needs to have an independent commodity index rather than use New Zealand’s due to our different export commodity mix.

ADF has had extensive discussions with government on the proposed index and we are looking forward to help shaping this important tool. It’s vital we get this right so all farmers have the ability to use the global information to assist them when they negotiate supply contracts with processors.

The index needs to be independent and transparent with easily accessible data that isn’t hard or complicated to use. It needs to be updated daily to capture the latest market intelligence from around the world and should translate commodity market and currency trends back to Farmgate prices across Australia. The index should also deliver a forward-looking price indicator to capture restored certainty and decision-making resulting in improved farmer confidence, better on-farm investment decisions, and ultimately higher farm profitability.

We have no doubt that our processors will increase their milk price forecast which is why we support the index and want to ensure it is a true indicator of commodity prices and meets the requirements of the Australian dairy industry as a whole.

The index will also give farmers the tool to better understand the impacts of world market trends and to be better armed with questions of the company they supply.

David Basham

Acting ADF President

 

Global Milk Prices Are On The Rise

Sep 09, 2016

Recent data on global dairy prices shows a positive rise that looks as if it might continue.

The average price in the Global Dairy Trade auction overnight rose by 7.7 per cent. This followed two consecutive rises in the past month, with a 12.7 percent increase in prices at the most recent auction, while the important whole milk powder (WMP) price rose by 3.7 per cent.

These results have driven the index to an 18 month high.

Analysts are predicting further rises in the global milk price which suggests that the worst might be behind us and we may start to see some stability return to the global milk supply. This will hopefully occur through rebalancing of supply and demand due to cut backs in EU production, intervention buying of SMP (skim milk powder) in Europe and increased buying in China.

Although these increases are nowhere near enough to return to sustainable prices it is pleasing to see that prices are on the rise and things may be looking better in the long term.

Unfortunately, the most optimistic scenarios see the market turning in any meaningful way in the first quarter of 2017.

As dairy farmers we have a limited capacity to manage the market price so it is important to always focus on what we can manage, remain aware of industry risks and maintain a low cost production system so we are in a better position to weather any storms.

While we are an industry that has been under intense pressure, we are also an industry that has the know-how and resilience to overcome adversity and thrive in the long term.

ADF, together with our state members, is continuing to fight for farmers. Even though we won’t be able to solve all of the issues farmers are facing, we are working to relieve some of the pressures to create change to ensure that an unfair share of the risk in the value chain is not taken by the farmer and that recent events in the industry don’t happen again.

Collaboration is the key to get us where we need to be. Our industry relies on all the elements to operate effectively. Farmers need processors and vice versa – so the solutions require all of us to come together to ensure a positive future.

While we wait for the uptick in prices we must remember that we are a resilient industry with a long, sustainable future ahead and our profitability depends greatly on the continued support of the Australian public.

It is important to remind the community that dairy farmers – regardless of the challenges they face are good business people, who care for their cows, work to enhance the well-being of their people and that every efficiency we make on farm has ties to minimising our impact of the environment.

To view the global dairy price index [click here]

David Basham

Acting ADF President


 

 

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