Competition policy at a cross roads

Jan 25, 2016

January 26, 2016 marks five years since Coles’ supermarket dropped the price of its home brand milk to $1 per litre, igniting a price war with Woolworths that reduced the value of milk to an unsustainable level.

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) has continued calls for the Federal Cabinet to adopt stronger misuse of market power laws to foster a more competitive business environment.

ADF President, Simone Jolliffe said there have been important breakthroughs for competition policy since 2011.

“The introduction of the Food and Grocery Code, which included a large number of ADF’s recommendations, was a constructive first step toward fostering a more competitive business environment.

Further to this the Australian Government’s support for key recommendations from the Harper Review of Competition Policy is extremely positive,” Mrs Jolliffe said.

“ADF also welcomed the announcement in the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper of $11.4 million over four years to boost the ACCC’s engagement with the agriculture sector including a new Agricultural Engagement Unit.”

However, Mrs Jolliffe said the industry would continue to advocate for improved transparency regarding the impact of retailer actions on suppliers. ADF also continues to advocate for the regulating bodies to have the power to prevent predatory pricing in future. 

“ADF also strongly supports the Harper Review’s recommendations for any updated competition and consumer law to include an effects test,” Mrs Jolliffe said.

“Addressing the misuse of market power is crucial in determining the Australian dairy industry’s future profitability and sustainability.”

Mrs Jolliffe encouraged consumers seeking to show their support for farmers to “buy branded”.

“The more branded milk we buy the more money stays in our dairy value chain. By keeping these dollars in the value chain dairy has the capacity to reinvest in industry research and innovation – which helps to strengthen our farmers, improving their efficiency and prospects of long term sustainability.

Buying branded means investing in choice for consumers on our supermarket shelves and in the future of our dairy farmers. This Australia Day – show your support by buying branded.

 

World Soil Day: Farmers, soil stewards

Dec 05, 2015

Saturday 5 December, is World Soil Day. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations kicked off World Soil Day of recognition in 2002, and we’re using the occasion to celebrate the role healthy soils play in building productive and profitable farms.

By getting the trace elements in the soil right, farmers on Australian dairy farms often find they have the potential to drive increased milk production higher.  

Regular soil testing is necessary to make informed decisions on fertiliser use and soil management and the interpretation of soil test results is key to making the most cost-effective fertiliser choice. Dairying for Tomorrow’s Fert$mart program includes a range of tools to help advisers and farmers get soil “right” and make informed, cost-effective fertiliser management decisions.

Australian Dairy Farmer’s (ADF) Natural Resources Policy Advisory Group Chair, Daryl Hoey said insufficient fertiliser negatively impacts on pasture growth. This means less pasture and means farmers have to increase supplementary feeding or reduce stocking rates. Too much fertiliser, or fertilising at the wrong time means wasted resources.

“The key is to have the balance in soil just right so that nutrients are available for optimal pasture growth and are not lost in run-off into waterways and dams,” Mr Hoey said.

Soil health can also be improved by the implementation of a well-managed effluent system. Effluent is a valuable resource for reducing fertiliser costs, increasing soil fertility, adding organic matter to soil and providing valuable nutrients and moisture to crops and pastures.

“We now have a better understanding of effluent management than ever before,” Mr Hoey said. “The industry has moved away from a waste product mentality to taking a resource utilisation approach and, as a result, not only do we have improved productivity on farm, we are leaving our soils in better condition now and for future generations.”

Australia's dairy farmers have always had a strong commitment to environmental sustainability with industry bodies such as ADF and Dairy Australia coordinating a range of industry programs to help farmers manage fertiliser use, improve soil health and minimise the impact of effluent.

The dairy industry’s sustainability framework Mr Hoey explained, underpins the whole of value chain effort to minimise the environmental footprint of dairy.

“The framework has been used to identify priority areas, goals and objectives for sustainability,” said Mr Hoey. “It sets the scene for industry programs like Fer$mart and farmer investment and practices to deliver better results for both farmers and the environment.”

“Dairy farmers have a real commitment to managing land and water responsibly, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting natural resources for future generations,” said Mr Hoey. 

“And as a bonus, many farmers are finding that, with proper soil and fertiliser management, they can produce more feed at no extra cost.”

To find out more about the role healthy soils play on Australian dairy farms take a look here.


Canberra celebrates dairy innovation

Oct 15, 2015

Over 100 parliamentarians, advisors, departmental members and industry stakeholders gathered in Canberra on Wednesday 14 October, in celebration of Australian dairy’s innovative and dynamic value chain. Hosted by the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) the dinner centred on the theme of Australian Dairy, Thinking Beyond the Box.

An exciting opportunity for parliamentarians and industry to discuss the role innovation plays in helping the industry grow, the event saw key agricultural leaders including Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce and Shadow Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon identify the importance of collaboration in achieving a more sustainably profitable future.

Minister Joyce said the Coalition Government shared the industry’s commitment to innovation as a way of improving dairy farmer productivity and profitability.

“Through our Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, the Coalition Government is delivering a range of initiatives across a number of key areas to strengthen dairying in Australia such as boosting funding for R&D, biosecurity and water infrastructure, developing more innovative and collaborative business models for farmers and establishing an ACCC Commissioner for Agriculture.

“In addition to the White Paper measures, the conclusion of free trade deals with Korea, Japan and China, as well the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement will help to significantly grow demand for Australian dairy products well into the future,” Minister Joyce said.
Mr Fitzgibbon commended the industry on working to progress the Dairy Industry Vision for 2025.

“Dairy is increasingly part of Australia’s economic future and it is great to join so many industry participants who share a vision for a more innovative, efficient, and sustainably profitable sector.”

With more than $2 billion dollars invested in farm science and technologies since 1980, innovation has always been pivotal to boosting dairy’s profitability and productivity.

ADIC Chair, Noel Campbell told guests that dairy is a dynamic and growing industry, one that more than ever needs to push boundaries.
“As an industry, dairy is working to ensure that the benefits of research, development and extension reach our whole value chain. For every dollar that our industry invests in R,D&E our farmers and processors see three dollars in returns,” Mr Campbell said.

“Increasingly volatile market conditions, where input costs continue to go up and capital for investment is limited mean encouraging uptake of innovative technologies is a challenge. Shared government and industry investment in R,D&E is critical to our success.”

Leaders in Australian dairy innovation, including CEO of the Dairy Futures CRC, Dr David Nation as well as dairy farmer and 2014 Nuffield Scholar, Aubrey Pellett provided guests with insight into key advancements in dairy technology and science.



Getting ChAFTA over the line requires united front

Sep 30, 2015

Getting the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) ratified will require farmers to show their communities what this opportunity means to them, according to Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) President, Noel Campbell.

Mr Campbell, along with representatives from the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) and the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF), was in Northern Victoria as part of a Regional Roadshow which kicked off on Monday 21 September.

The industry used the roadshow to ask as many farmers as possible for their help in getting the China agreement ratified before the end of the 2015 calendar year.

“Farm lobby groups are leading the push to get the deal passed through Parliament.ADF, in collaboration with the State Dairy Farming Organisations has been wearing a path to Canberra, lobbying both sides of parliament and the independent senators to highlight why this deal is important,” Mr Campbell said.

“The ChAFTA is under threat. We need farmers, processors, service providers and regional communities to help us get this deal over the line before the end of the year. We need your help to explain to your neighbours, friends and family why this deal matters for Australia.”

The regional meetings were well attended, with over 100 farmers attending for the first three events in West Victoria. Farmers from all commodities – not just dairy – attended the meetings, demonstrating that the entire farming community is well aware of what is at stake.

Tatura dairy farmer, Ingrid Tysoe said the ChAFTA was about building long term sustainable profitability.

“For farm security, things are going to be a lot better; this gives courage for us to work towards the future,” Ms Tyson said.

"I felt that the session was really informative and it's giving us hope that the dairy industry is looking brighter for us.”

Mr Campbell told attendees that it was essential to highlight that the ChAFTA is a good deal not just for farmers but for the Australian community.

“We worked hard to get a true ‘free trade’ agreement with the ChAFTA last year. With tariffs down to zero over the next four to 11 years on dairy products, we believe this has been achieved,” Mr Campbell said.

“The ChAFTA is a great deal for Australian dairy and a great deal for the Australian community. If ratified this year, the dairy industry alone will see growth in job creation across the value chain. We expect that around 600-700 jobs will be created within the first year of ratification. More dairy jobs means more vibrant, prosperous and growing rural and regional communities across all of Australia's dairying regions.

“I urge all of you to get on board to help us ensure that this deal is implemented this year so that our industry, as well as the broader community can start to take advantage of the benefits this deal brings.”

With meetings in Victoria to conclude on Tuesday 29 September, ADF plans to take the regional roadshow to Tasmania to spread the word about how farmers can help get ChAFTA over the line.


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