Looking back to go forward

By Geoff Adams

Last week’s Australian Dairy Conference in Canberra drew together a range of speakers covering science, marketing, farm production and politics.

But the most remarkable session appeared to be the panel of processors, which included Fonterra, Bega, Norco and Saputo.

Each representative had an opportunity to explain, ‘‘what keeps me awake at night’’.

Saputo chief executive officer Lino Saputo Jr drew applause a number of times when he criticised the $1/litre milk deal and supported a mandatory dairy code.

And he finished to applause with the profound statement: ‘‘We are in a growth industry; we just have to get our sh** right’’.

In her opening remarks on the first day, conference program chair Susan Wearden remarked that Australian dairy had a history which extended back to the cows that arrived with the First Fleet.

Mrs Wearden, who is a Kyabram farmer, quoted examples of bold political leadership where change was required.

She told the 400 delegates the conference theme was about bold leadership.

Mrs Wearden said the landscape in which farmers operated had changed but with each challenge they had responded with adaptation, innovation and education.

She said times had changed from the day when most city people had country cousins who were on the land. These links have all but disappeared and so the social licence we participate in is changing.

She called for strategic and pro-active thinking.

She said the program was intended to challenge, inform and celebrate.