Boost for dairy competitiveness welcomed

Jul 18, 2015

The much-anticipated Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper released on Saturday 4 July on Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) National Councillor, Roma Britnell’s dairy farm in Victoria has delivered key initiatives which mark a positive step toward delivering higher productivity and profitability for Australian dairy.

Key benefits for dairy farmers which have been championed by ADF as part of the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) include increased funding for Agricultural Counsellors abroad to address technical barriers to trade in overseas markets; improved flexibility of Farm Management Deposits and investment in establishing agricultural expertise in the provision of an Agricultural Commissioner for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

“We are pleased to see that key points of the ADIC’s recommendations to the Green Paper have been taken on board,” ADIC Chair, Noel Campbell said.

“In particular, the provision of $11.4 million over four years toward boosting ACCC engagement with agriculture, including an ACCC Agriculture Commissioner, will aid in fostering a stronger business environment throughout the supply chain.”

The ADIC submissions to the issues and green papers covered all aspects of agricultural policy with a particular focus on the following key areas:

  • Continued support for research, development and extension projects;
  • Overseas trade market access;
  • Strengthening competition laws;
  • Improving skilled labour availability.

The Government’s enhanced commitment to research, development and extension projects with a focus on innovation and risk management was also welcomed by the ADIC. The commitment of $200 million to improve biosecurity surveillance and analysis nationally will also play an essential role in creating a more durable, profitable and competitive dairy industry.

Additionally, the Government’s confirmation for water efficiency projects combined with improving existing water infrastructure and developing new infrastructure is positive. Increased support for these initiatives was a key recommendation in the ADIC’s submission to the Green Paper.

Mr Campbell said that the ADIC is committed to working with Government to see swift implementation of the initiatives delivered in the White Paper.

“The White Paper points us in the right direction in terms of where we want to go and as an industry we now look forward to working with Government to ensure that these initiatives translate into real outcomes for dairy.”

Click here to view the ADIC’s submission to the Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper. 


Audits streamlined to save on farm

Jun 18, 2015

The news that the Department of Environment will remove unnecessary audit requirements from the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Programme (OFIEP) has been warmly welcomed by Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF). The relaxation of the requirements, which ADF has been advocating for well over 12 months, will save programme participants in the southern-connected region of the Murray Darling Basin significant time, money and stress.

The issue arose from the Department of Environment insisting that every single farmer who got funding from the OFIEP, had to get an independent audit of their works, in addition to the individual farm compliance documents already held by the delivery partners. All of this was at the farmers’ personal expense and within 60 days of the end of each financial year.

The audits were designed to ensure that each of projects was completed within the terms and conditions of work contracts, and that the Government funding provided was spent appropriately.

On Wednesday 20 May, ADF received a letter from Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister for Environment, the Hon. Bob Baldwin MP, acknowledging ADF’s concerns around the cost imposition and stipulating alterations to the requirements. Farmers are now instead required to undertake an audit at the end of their project, rather than at the end of each financial year, and may use their personal accountant rather than a costly independent auditor to do this review.

Chair of the ADF Natural Resources Policy Advisory Group, Daryl Hoey said that while farmers had no objection to being accountable for their spending, the audits ultimately became red tape.

“The requirements were onerous from both a time and money perspective. Removing the additional requirements for farmers will mean savings of up to $2000, plus reducing the added pressure of going through an audit process,” Mr Hoey said.

“Beyond this it will also assist in streamlining the way in which the programme is rolled out, which may encourage greater uptake of irrigation improvement by farmers.”

ADF is strongly supportive of infrastructure programs under the Murray Darling Basin Plan as they have demonstrated significant cost-benefit, with upgrades to existing infrastructure delivering approximately $9800/ML worth of increased farm productivity.

An important part of the 450 GL recovery through on and off farm infrastructure savings under the Murray Darling Basin Plan, the On-Farm Efficiency Programme involves participating farmers transferring water entitlements back to the environment that are equivalent to half the savings they achieve. In return farmers receive government investment on their farm to improve their capacity to produce more milk from less water.

Upgrades already carried-out under the programme have delivered approximately $9800/ML worth of increased farm productivity per year.

To find out whether you’re eligible for the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Programme, click here


President's Message - June 2015

Jun 15, 2015

 

Whether at the farm gate or in the board room, stopping to take stock, acknowledge success and identify areas for improvement is essential to ensuring any good business remains on track to deliver desired outcomes.

Now at the half way mark for 2015, Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) is reflecting on the progress made thus far and the challenges yet to overcome, with the interests of dairy farmers and their profitability top of mind.

Volatility is a constant theme for dairy farmers and the past six months has been no different with all regions affected in some way by floods, drought and an ever fluctuating global milk price. But while there have been challenges there has also been important progress.

In March, we welcomed the Australian Government’s announcement to introduce legislation capping water buybacks in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (MDBP) at 1500 gigalitres (GL). The 1500GL cap provides dairy farmers in the Murray-Darling Basin with much-needed certainty about future water availability to sustain their business.

ADF has also welcomed the relaxation of audit requirements for farmers in the southern-connected region of the Basin who participate the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Programme. This policy win will be explored later on the newsletter.

ADF’s lobbying on competition policy was instrumental in securing a positive step toward reforming Australia’s flawed legislation - the introduction of a Prescribed Code of Conduct. The Prescribed Code is not perfect, but it does address several key imbalances with regard to retailers’ power over suppliers. We welcome the commitment already made by retailer Woolworths by signing onto the Prescribed Code, and expect that in the days to come all the major retailers will follow suit.

ADF will continue to monitor the Codes’ effectiveness over the next three years with a view to seek the strengthening of regulations if necessary. We will also continue to advocate for an Ombudsman to help balance the market power of major retailers.

The above ‘short list’ skims the surface of the progress made so far this year, with many challenges, and triumphs, still ahead. At the forefront of our agenda is ensuring our industry retains the confidence and trust of consumers, customers and the broader public by addressing issues of concern such as unconventional gas mining and highlighting dairy farmers’ commitment to the health and wellbeing of their cattle.

The team at ADF remains committed to ensuring Australian dairy’s voice is heard through government policies that support our industry, and working with our industry bodies to ensure dairy’s good practices are known and understood across the broader community.

Noel Campbell
ADF President

Good news for Aussie farmers as loan scheme interest rates fall

Feb 06, 2015

Falling interest rates on loans delivered under two vital Federal Government schemes will improve the long term viability of dairy farmers according to national advocacy body, Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF).


Interest on loans delivered under the Farm Finance Concessional Loans Scheme and the Drought Concessional Loans Scheme fell to 4.34 and 3.84 per cent respectively as of 1 February 2015.


ADF President, Noel Campbell said the improved terms of both Federal Government loans would help dairy farmers reduce the cost of farm debt as well as providing cheaper finance for drought recovery on farm.


“This interest rate cut means farmers will be better placed if they want to use these Government loans,” Mr Campbell said.


“While there are many factors beyond our control when it comes to seasonal conditions and drought, this decrease provides a better option for dairy farmers who are trying to return to full viable production as soon as possible.”


As the national voice of Australian dairy farmers, ADF has continually sought Government support to ensure viable farms have access to practical measures that will improve the industry’s longevity.


The decision by Government to lower interest rates shows confidence in Australian agriculture’s efforts to improve its long term sustainability, providing industry with the support to maintain our efforts.


While the interest rate cuts are welcomed by the industry, ADF highlights the need to reduce the loans red tape to ensure they are more accessible to dairy farmers.


To find out more about the Farm Finance and Drought Concessional Loans Schemes and your eligibility, click here


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