Give thanks for dairy farmers this Christmas...

Dec 23, 2015

With Christmas only two sleeps away, it’s time to reflect on the role that dairy farmers (and for that matter all farmers) plays in the festive season.

We’re all looking forward to the cheese platters, custard, ice cream and all manner of other festive trimmings this holiday period. All of those tasty dairy products have been produced by the dairy farmers of this country, which is milked and processed even as we unwrap our presents from Santa on Christmas morning. Milking takes place every day of the year, irrespective if public holidays or religious festivals. Aussie farmers do this to ensure that there is always milk in our fridges – 365 days a year.

So as you tuck into your Christmas pudding and add custard, butter or cream remember to thank an Australian dairy farmer who got up early to produce it.

Merry Christmas from Australian Dairy Farmers!

 

Labour template to address skills shortage

Aug 18, 2015

Under the Dairy Industry Template Labour Agreement, finalised with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on 17 July 2015, dairy farmers are now able to recruit senior farmhands from overseas on 457 Visas as well as farm managers.

Eligibility for the 457 visa was previously restricted to farm managers which the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) recognises as skill level 1. Feedback indicated however that many farm employers were seeking workers with qualifications one level under management – capable of organising day-to-day operations but not necessarily making major decisions.

The Australian dairy industry is in a position to grow substantially over the next decade to meet the burgeoning demand across Asia for high quality, safe dairy products. Yet the industry’s capacity to increase production is fundamentally constrained by a chronic shortage of skilled labour in the Australian pool.

Recognising this, in 2014 Dairy Australia, in collaboration with Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) approached the Department of Immigration with the Dairy Industry Labour Agreement Template. The agreement is designed to give farmers more options when seeking labour by expanding the eligibility criteria for 457 visas and reducing paperwork.

Chair of ADF Policy Advisory Group in the People and Human Capacity space, John Versteden said the agreement provides another option for farmers to fill the short term skills gap for farmhands in Australian dairy.

“The dairy industry’s most valuable asset is the people who work in it, which is why it is important to commit to attracting, retaining and developing the most skilled labour,” Mr Versteden said.

“While our preference is always to hire Australian workers, there are not enough experienced, available farmhands to meet the demand in a growing industry.”

The industry has invested heavily in training and upskilling its workforce, including via certificate and diploma courses offered through the National Dairy Education Centre (NCDE) since 2006. Although student numbers are steadily growing, it is still not enough to meet dairy’s growing demand for skilled workers as production scales up to meet growing export demand.

Senior farmhands recruited under the labour agreement must have Certificate III or equivalent qualifications in addition to at least three years of recent and relevant experience, or alternatively five years of recent and relevant experience.

You can find further information on the Dairy Industry Labour Agreement Template via http://www.thepeopleindairy.org.au/engagement-reward/contracts-and-agreements.htm


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. 


Workplace Relations Framework Review

Mar 26, 2015

In December last year, the Federal Government announced its terms of reference for the inquiry into Australia’s Workplace Relations Framework Review.

The review is being undertaken by the Productivity Commission and invites feedback on how improvements can be made to develop more, “productive, rewarding, competitive and harmonious workplaces”, as stated by Minister for Employment, Eric Abetz.

The Issues Paper was later released in late January 2015. Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF), along with Dairy Australia, lodged a submission in March, focusing on the need for greater flexibility in the Fair Work Act.

In particular, we are seeking greater flexibility with the award system, which will help the dairy industry take full advantage of growth opportunities. The removal of the Pastoral Award 2010’s three-hour minimum engagement, which states that staff employed on a farm must be rostered for a minimum of three hours per shift, was cited as a strong example of the current award system’s rigidity.

At the moment, this clause has a number of negative ramifications on farm business operations as it does not acknowledge the unique workforce requirements of the dairy industry, where cows need to be milked twice daily. As a result, the clause removes any incentives for staff to milk in a time-efficient manner and often milkers go home early, where farmers pay for time when no work is performed.

The Productivity Commission is expected to release a draft report in July 2015. For more information about this submission, please contact ADF Policy Officer, Kelly Im: kim@australiandairyfarmers.com.au.


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