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


On-farm factors key to safeguarding business profitability

Apr 10, 2015

Over the past decade, Australian dairy farms have faced many challenges to profitability. With the wide range of climatic zones, production systems, operating structures and milk price structures – it’s no wonder there is no silver bullet to ensuring long-term farm profitability.

Following key outcomes from the 2014 Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) National Dairy Farmers’ Summit, and earlier recommendations of the Horizon 2020 study, the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) commissioned Dairy Australia to prepare a report on Sustainable Farm Profitability.

The report, released this month, focuses on the on-farm factors that influence individual dairy farmers’ ability to run profitable farm businesses. Macro drivers outside of farmers’ control, such as weather events, milk price volatility and government policy, are put aside to provide a focus on the aspects of technical efficiency, management capability, tactical flexibility, cost control and investment decisions that farmers can make to deal with risk and volatility.

Dairy Australia’s Farm Business Capability Program Manager, Neil Lane said dairy farms are significantly more successful when farmers are good at managing their business across the board, with a combination of technical and financial skills.

“There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to sustaining profitability and it can be a challenge for many individual dairy businesses, however in both good times and bad, there are key areas that farmers can improve to better safeguard their businesses,” Mr Lane said.

Download your copy of the Sustainable Farm Profitability report, here.

 

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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