The national voice for Australian dairy farmers

Our achievements

Since its establishment in 1942, Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) has made and contributed to substantial legislative and industrial policy. We have also successfully advocated for key initiatives which have improved the profitability and sustainability of many Australian dairy farmers. Over the past five years highlights have included:

Seasonal Worker Program: Extended to Dairy - 2016

Access to a reliable workforce is essential for the dairy industry to make the most of opportunities for a stronger future. ADF’s lobbying efforts were essential in the government’s decision to expand the Seasonal Worker Program, announced in February 2016. This program provides another option to enable dairy farmers to secure a returning workforce, as it allows seasonal workers from countries in the Pacific and Timor-Leste to assist during peak times, when local employees are not available.

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Sustainable Farm Profitability Report - 2015

The Sustainable Farm Profitability Report, commissioned by the ADIC and produced in collaboration with Dairy Australia has identified efficient input use, strict cost control and sound management skills as the key areas of focus that can help all dairy farmers achieve better profits.

The report, launched in early 2015, focuses on farm business profitability, pinpointing key drivers of successful dairying businesses and highlighting long-term strategies for success. 

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Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper - 2015

Positive dairy initiatives sought by ADF were reflected in the Agriculture Competitiveness White Paper, announced July 4 2015. These included, the provision of $11.4 million to appoint an ACCC Agriculture Commissioner to foster a more competitive environment throughout the supply chain, additionally the planned increase to the limit for Farm Management Deposits (FMDs) to $800,000, and decision to allow FMD accounts to be used as a farm business loan offset, will help build farmers’ confidence levels and improve on farm profitability. 

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Dairy Industry Template Labour Agreement - 2015

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

Recognising this, in 2014 Dairy Australia and Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) initiated negotiations with the Department of Immigration to develop a template Dairy Industry Labour Agreement, to give farmers more options when seeking skilled labour from overseas.

Under the template 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.

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Food and Grocery Code of Conduct - 2015

On 2 March 2015, the Minister for Small Business announced that the Competition and Consumer (Industry Codes – Food and Grocery) Regulation 2015 was prescribed as a voluntary code, which ADF welcomed as a positive first step towards addressing market power imbalances.

The Food and Grocery Code of Conduct adopts many of the recommendations developed by ADF in collaboration with Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation (QDO). 

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On-Farm Irrigation Efficency Audits - 2015

In May 2015, the Department of Environment notified ADF that it would remove unnecessary audit requirements from the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Programme (OFIEP). The relaxation of the requirements, which ADF advocated strong for, will save programme participants in the southern-connected region of the Murray Darling Basin significant time, money and stress.

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Review of Australian Competition and Consumer Policy - 2014-2015

ADF has consistently taken a firm stance against retailer abuse of market power, expressing opposition to $ 1 per litre milk and writing to the ACCC regarding Coles’ video and cartoon titled ‘Our Coles Brand Milk Story’. We have long advocated the need for competition policy reform that addresses the unequal balance of market power between major retailers and suppliers with not only a Mandatory Code of Conduct to control said power, but also a Supermarket Ombudsman to effectively regulate the code.

In December 2014, the ACCC instituted Federal Court action against Coles which had demanded payments from suppliers to which it was not entitled to by threatening harm to suppliers, and withheld money from suppliers it had no right to withhold. In May 2015, the court ordered Coles to establish a formal process to provide for redress for over 200 affected suppliers and was ordered to pay approximately $12 million. 

Around the same time in December 2014, the ACCC has also launched legal action against Woolworths for unconscionable conduct over its dealings with suppliers to urgently reduce its half year profit shortfall of $50 million. Allegedly, Woolworths acted in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law to eke $18.1 million from its suppliers and will face fines and other penalties if found to have breached this law. 

Further the decision by the Federal Government to review Australian competition and consumer policy with an independent review conducted by Professor Ian Harper, is most welcome by ADF.

We hope to see the review result in real and meaningful change in the competition policy space and continue to provide input to the review through our own submissions highlighting the requirements for a fair and competitive domestic market.

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Pro-Dairy Outcome: China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) - 2014

ADF’s policy focus in this area was to ensure the successful conclusion of a free trade agreement with China ensued following intensive advocacy with Government to deliver on a positive result for Australian dairy. In particular an agreement that was ‘New Zealand Plus’ outcome was sought, to allow Australian dairy to compete on a more level playing field.

The agreement signed in November 2014 provides to the whole of industry, the prospect to invest for the future with renewed industry confidence and creates an environment where the whole dairy value chain has the opportunity to flourish and prosper.

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The Australian Dairy Vision - 2014

Borne out of an extensive consultative process engaging all sectors of the dairy industry, and further developed at the ADIC Strategic Forum held in May, the Australian Dairy Vision was endorsed by the ADIC Board in July. The Vision; Australian Dairy – Prosperous, Trusted, World Renowned Nutrition, is underpinned by five equally weighted elements, each containing a set of priority areas for collective action.

Officially launched at the ADIC Canberra Dairy Dinner in October, the vision delivers on the objective of developing a consistent statement that underpins a strategic plan for the industry.

The industry is collaborating on an implementation plan for the Vision, with many existing programs, particularly the Dairy Sustainability Framework, already working towards the industry’s targets. The first of its kind for Australian agriculture, the Dairy Vision will help Australian dairy organisations work collaboratively, in order to grow in confidence and prosperity, on both a local and national scale.

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ADF National Dairy Summit - 2014

The inaugural ADF National Dairy Farmers’ Summit, held in Melbourne on 13 March 2014, was declared a positive step forward for the dairy industry. The Summit brought together over 150 industry representatives – an overwhelming majority of whom were dairy farmers – as well as processors, state dairy farming organisations and national farming organisational representatives.

Officially opened by Federal Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, the Summits identified 18 key, future focused priorities for Australian dairy. Long term profitability, both on-farm and through the supply chain was an underlying theme through the Summit discussions, which gave dairy significant forward looking direction for both industry and Government focused policy.

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Herd Improvement Strategy - 2014

The Herd Improvement Strategy, developed through a highly collaborative process, with substantial contributions from the ADF Farming Systems and Herd Improvement PAG, and farmers across Australia, is a vision for 2020 focusing on maximising profitability for dairy farmers through a herd improvement industry offering effective and highly valued services.

The strategy aims to be an adaptive document that will recognise the needs and interests of farmers and the industry.

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Emissions reduction fund and the repeal of the Carbon Tax - 2013-2014

The dairy industry is strongly committed to reducing the industry’s emissions intensity, and supports policy that assists Australian dairy to achieve this aim. During the 2013-2014 reporting period, ADF has been actively engaged in the Federal Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) development process, having lodged several submissions, held discussions with Ministers and advisers, and implemented key messages from new research on dairy energy use in our advocacy on the ERF. Several of ADF’s recommendations were integrated into the final Government policy on the ERF.

ADF strongly advocated against the Carbon Tax due to its negative impact on costs of production and competitiveness. We endorsed the Senate’s decision to abolish the carbon tax in July 2014. We look forward to continuing our work with government to find the right solution to this vital issue.

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Australian Cattle Standards and Guidelines - 2013

ADF has worked with industry groups, governments and animal welfare groups to negotiate national animal welfare standards and guidelines which cover issues including Time Off Feed. ADF is working with Government to implement the standards and guidelines on a nationally consistent basis, to ensure all dairy farmers are aware of their responsibilities toward their cattle.

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Increase to asset threshold test for the Interim Farm Household Allowance - 2013

With the aim of assisting drought affected dairy farmers across Australia, ADF advocated for and achieved an increase to the asset threshold test for the Interim Farm Household Allowance.

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Farm Finance Package - 2013

Announced in 2013 by the then Federal Labour Government, the Farm Finance Concessional Loans Scheme is designed to assist farmers struggling with high levels of debt by refinancing existing debt and/or providing new loans to fund productivity enhancement activities that will enable farmers to better manage debt in future.

ADF advocated strongly for the Farm Finance Package and welcomed its announcement as an endorsement of the industry’s progression toward its long term sustainability and profitability goals, to assist farmers experiencing extreme financial hardship in the short term.

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Murray Darling Basin Plan – Water Buybacks - 2013

ADF strongly advocated for and achieved an explicit 1500GL cap on water buybacks in the Murray Darling Basin, giving farmers much needed breathing space and time to adjust to decreased water supplies.

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Employment Starter Kit Initiative (ESKi) - 2013

Instrumental to the establishment of the Employment Starter Kit Initiative, better known as ESKi, was ADF’s strongly advocacy to industry partner, Dairy Australia. This valuable resource provides dairy businesses with the tools they need to bring new labour on farm and hence manage their business more effectively.

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Animal Health – Dairy Milk Levy - 2012

ADF strongly advocated for, and achieved, an increase in the animal health component of the dairy milk levy, which was introduced from 1 July 2012.

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Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework - 2012

Endorsed in 2012, the Dairy Industry’s Sustainability Framework identifies priority areas, goals and objectives which aim to enhance livelihoods, improve wellbeing and reduce our environmental impact so that Australia’s dairy industry is recognised worldwide as a responsible, responsive and prosperous producer of healthy food.

The Framework is designed to provide customers, consumers and other stakeholders with evidence that the dairy industry is committed to the community and the environment. It is a framework for keeping the Australian dairy industry in business for the long term.

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ADF Restructure - 2012

In 2012, ADF undertook a major restructure, establishing a more financially efficient, improved constitution better able to deliver improved value to farmer members.

As part of the restructure, there is now a smaller board focused on strategy and oversights, a new national council of state representatives and policy advisory groups, providing links to industry bodies and lending a consistent voice.

In making this change, ADF became a stronger voice for the dairy sector, better able to address the ongoing and new challenges facing dairy.

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Establishment of the Dairy Industry People Development Council (DIPDC) - 2010

ADF, via the ADIC played a key role in the establishment of the Dairy Industry People Development Council (DIPDC), whose primary role is to provide high level strategic input into the dairy industry’s workforce and development strategy to enable policy and organisational alignment.

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Industry Blueprint - 2010

In 2010, a five-year Industry Blueprint was developed for Australian dairy to increase its leadership capacity to influence public policy and manage collective investments across the value chain, by 2015.

Implementing three tiers of industry leadership to address district, regional, state, national and international issues, the Blueprint has contributed towards streamlining resources to source external opportunities and funding, improved stewardship, and enhanced mechanisms to track leadership efforts.

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Contact Details

Level 2 Swann House
22 William Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

Tel: (03) 8621 4200

Fax: (03) 8621 4280

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