Dairy unity needed

Central and North Rural Weekly - - DROUGHT FEA­TURE - Bruce Knowles, United Dairy Farm­ers of Vic­to­ria Wan­non Branch pres­i­dent

FARM­ERS are heart­ened to read that we have a def­i­nite voice, a voice that has spo­ken clearly and has in­vited dairy farm­ers to give our beloved in­dus­try a much-needed real­ity check.

Let us re­mem­ber how important dairy farm­ers are and how much money they in­ject into our re­gions.

I am told that for ev­ery dol­lar a dairy farm spends, it gen­er­ates an­other $5 into the re­gion.

Dairy farm­ers are hard­work­ing and proud, but are be­com­ing very tired levy-pay­ing farm­ers whose in­dus­try des­per­ately needs to unite and move for­ward as one.

This is more than the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of milk price that im­pacts on prof­itabil­ity and also just as important as the in­creas­ing cost of pro­duc­tion.

Ef­fec­tive ad­vo­cacy is so important.

Our abil­ity to gen­er­ate wealth within our re­gions has not pre­cluded us as be­ing por­trayed as a com­plain­ing, dis­en­fran­chised and ir­rev­er­ent group to many.

Those who say we are our own worst en­emy are sadly correct due to this per­ceived bick­er­ing.

We must se­cure a joint and shared re­spon­si­bil­ity be­tween dairy farm­ers, ad­vo­cacy bod­ies and pro­ces­sors to drive unity and sta­bil­ity in the dairy in­dus­try.

Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion com­mis­sioner Mick Keogh has reaf­firmed his view that we must now stop the per­ceived fum­bling of the code-of-con­duct ba­ton.

We must ac­cept the rec­om­men­da­tion of the ACCC and start ap­ply­ing our­selves to unit­ing the dairy in­dus­try.

Grant Crothers, pres­i­dent of the Aus­tralian Dairy Prod­ucts Fed­er­a­tion, in­ferred the in­dus­try does not need a code that in­ter­feres with mar­ket dy­nam­ics and com­pe­ti­tion.

Agreed, but “reg­u­la­tion” is be­ing de­manded.

In 2016 the United Dairy­farm­ers of Vic­to­ria Wan­non Branch dis­cussed a sim­ple solution to help negate the milk merry-go-round.

This solution was to ef­fec­tively sup­port the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a manda­tory minimum 12-month con­tract for both the sup­plier and pro­ces­sor to bring sta­bil­ity, unity and cer­tainty for all in the Aus­tralian dairy in­dus­try.

UDV Wan­non Branch brought the res­o­lu­tion to the UDV con­fer­ence and while dis­ap­pointed that the res­o­lu­tion was not car­ried, was heart­ened as it was a close re­sult. We were hope­ful of green shoots of com­mon sense and of the pos­si­bil­i­ties of a fu­ture awak­en­ing of the majority of sup­pli­ers to the ben­e­fits of such a di­rec­tion.

Pro­ces­sors will have se­cu­rity of sup­ply and main­tain the free­dom to op­er­ate their busi­ness as they see fit.

The milk sup­pli­ers will be guar­an­teed the open­ing price and the full value of milk sup­plied for 12 months.

While this solution will not sat­isfy all, I am con­fi­dent over­all that this limited minimum com­mit­ment by both milk pro­ces­sors and the milk sup­plier will go a long way to sta­bilise and unite the Aus­tralian Dairy In­dus­try with­out an over-abun­dant amount of manda­tory reg­u­la­tion – an over­reach into the mar­ket­place and com­pe­ti­tion.

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