Climate variability drives on farm innovation

Nov 23, 2015

A concerted effort to reduce power costs and dairy’s environmental footprint is seeing increasing numbers of Australian producers implement more efficient, ‘green’ on farm practices.

In Athlone, Gippsland former mechanical engineer and seventh generation dairy farmer, Lindsay Anderson is harnessing solar energy to the benefit of reduced on-farm costs. Converting all his large single-phase motors to three-phase motors using variable speed drives as phase converters, Mr Anderson has implemented renewable technology throughout his business. He devised a 5 kilo-watt grid-connected solar system which supplies power to his automatic milking system, his workshop and farm house.

This system provides enough power to feedback through the grid for a payment each quarter – providing some additional income for Mr Anderson.

“This system can save me between 15 to 33% of electricity consumption,” Mr Anderson said. 

It also means there is even less diesel used on the property so the environment will also be better off.

According to dairy’s 2014 Sustainability Framework Progress Report, Mr Anderson is one of many dairy farmers adopting energy efficient procedures on farm. Since 2012 40% of farms have installed some form of renewable energy installation.

Chair of the Sustainability Framework Steering Committee, Chris Griffin said that dairy producers have always been stewards of the land, and are constantly getting smarter about energy efficiency on farm.

“Dairy farmers have a real commitment to managing land and water responsibly, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting natural resources for future generations. They are constantly reviewing their practices in response to seasonal conditions and a changing climate,” said Mr Griffin.

“As a bonus, many farmers are finding that these measures are cost effective.”

Working with Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) and Dairy Australia, the ADIC has lobbied hard to secure Government funding to support uptake of energy efficient technology on farm. Combined with industry investment, Federal and state programs have assisted farmers and manufacturers with the upfront capital costs in energy efficient or renewable energy technology, and therefore increased uptake.

The dairy industry has seen the benefit of such co-funded initiatives through Dairy Australia and the Federal Government’s Energy Efficiency Information Program. These nationwide assessments have already helped 1,400 farms. Guidelines have also been developed to complement these assessments and provide information about where energy is used in dairies, as well as identify where greater efficiency can be found.

In two years since the Sustainability Framework was implemented, manufacturers’ use of fuel and electricity has reduced by 14.5%. Together, the whole value chain is vigorously pursuing its target of reducing the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020.

“We will continue with programs and projects that are guiding the industry toward improved returns, while minimising our environmental footprint and improving the wellbeing of our people and animals,” Mr Griffin explained.

“There is still work to be done, but we are most definitely headed in the right direction.”

Earlier this year, ADF shifted its climate change policy, calling for joint industry and government investment in adopting energy efficient technologies on farm. Chair of the ADF Natural Resources Policy Advisory Group, Daryl Hoey said the revised policy highlights to Parliament, consumers and the broader community that the industry remains actively engaged in reducing its environmental impact.

“The scientific evidence, international policy, and public interest in increased climate variability justify industry action. Our whole value chain strives to continually reduce its environmental footprint, through uptake of new technologies, improved management and adoption of farming systems to suit climate variability,”

“The Australian Government can promote the industry’s effective response to climate variability through sustained investment in agriculture R, D&E and the uptake of energy efficient technologies on farm.”

This includes new solutions that both reduce emissions and improve profitability, international research collaboration, and methodologies that support a whole-farm-systems approach in reducing emissions.

“The Australian dairy industry is keenly observing the Government’s response to the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference taking place in Paris this December,” Mr Hoey said.

“We are aware the outcomes of this event may impact the Australian Government’s approach to emissions reduction policy. We want to ensure any policy initiatives do not undermine our trade exposed industry, but instead support dairy farmers’ ability to manage risk, innovate and adapt to climate variability.”

For more information on ADF's policy on carbon emissions and climate change click here

What the TPP means for dairy

Oct 20, 2015

The 12 nations involved in negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement concluded negotiations in Atlanta on Tuesday 6 October 2015, delivering modest but important gains for the Australian dairy industry.


As the whole of value chain representative body, the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) acknowledged the conclusion of the agreement as a good result for Australian dairy farmers.

ADIC Chair, Noel Campbell said that the deal, in conjunction with the recently concluded China-Australia free trade agreement, would give farmers the confidence that if they are going to grow their businesses there are markets to match their growth.

“As an industry our future growth will be on the export market, as domestic growth has matured. The TPP provides improved access to markets such as Japan, where demand for our high quality, safe product is expected to increase in coming years,” Mr Campbell said.

“The industry is currently examining the agreement in its entirety to assess what the full extent of the benefits will be for Australian dairy. Early analysis indicates however that the TPP will enable more Australian cheese to be exported to Japan tariff-free. We’ve also got greater access for butter and skim milk powder than ever before.”

Mr Campbell said the industry appreciated the dedication of the Minister for Trade and Investment, the Hon. Andrew Robb MP and his team of negotiators, in continuing to seek trade agreements that benefit the Australian economy.

“On behalf of the Australian dairy industry I would like to extend my thanks to Minister Robb and the Australian negotiators for maintaining strong communication with industry throughout the TPP negotiations. They have done their utmost to balance the competing interest of industry and government across the 12 nations involved throughout a challenging process,” Mr Campbell said.

“The conclusion of the TPP continues a historic period of increased trade liberalisation over the past few years. The ADIC looks forward to reviewing the agreement in its entirety to fully quantify the benefits for dairy.”

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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