Industry ‘let down’

By Geoff Adams

Dairy Australia is being pressured to become more responsive to dairy industry concerns as milk production crashes in northern Victoria and farmer exits continue.

The national levy-funded dairy body was criticised at the recent United Dairy Farmers of Victoria conference and individual farmers are calling for the support organisation to take a stronger role.

However the organisation has pointed to its active role in supporting farmers in the current crisis and the connections it has been making through its regional development body, Murray Dairy.

Murray Dairy has been in contact with hundreds of farmers during the past 12 months through its Taking Stock program of one-to-one professional support, and through other skills and training programs.

Frustrated farmers, caught between high input prices with water and grain, have been venting their anger on social media.

UDV leader Paul Mumford challenged Dairy Australia at the recent annual meeting to answer questions as to why greater action had not been taken to prepare farmers for this current situation.

‘‘What happened to our industry preparedness? Why were our levy investments not better targeted to deliver the preparedness required?’’ Mr Mumford asked.

‘‘I am disappointed to say that our farmers and their communities in the north have been let down by industry, processors and governments,’’ Mr Mumford told farmers.

An Echuca farmer who pays about $12000 a year in levies told Country News he had been disappointed with Dairy Australia’s contact with him.

Katunga farmer Bridget Goulding was critical of the returns compared to the cost of the levies, and Timmering farmer Scott Somerville was also unhappy with Dairy Australia’s research priorities.

Dairy Australia managing director David Nation told Country News there was a comprehensive network of support available to farmers.

‘‘We do know this has been a really serious year,’’ he said.

Dr Nation said Dairy Australia reached out actively to farmers.

‘‘We try hard to not leave anyone behind.’’

During the next month, stressed Murray region farmers will be asked about a new long-term industry plan.