Dairy

Planning missing

By Country News

When UDV president Paul Mumford stood up at the UDV Conference and told the crowd that northern Victoria was being let down by the industry, he knew he was putting his own neck on the line.

But, with the current state of the dairy industry, he said bodies such as the UDV and Dairy Australia needed to be doing more.

‘‘I think I was just speaking what all dairy farmers have been thinking,’’ he said.

‘‘It was something that’s quite obvious that I just made public.

‘‘I’m essentially pointing the finger at myself ... We haven’t been speaking firm enough and holding people to account.’’

With so many issues in the industry, Mr Mumford acknowledged that it was often difficult to know where to start.

However, he’s sceptical of blue-sky plans looking at what the dairy industry will look like in five years’ time.

‘‘It’s reasonably useless because the here and now won’t let us get there,’’ Mr Mumford said.

Looking into the future is not something Dairy Australia has done well historically according to Mr Mumford.

‘‘The concerns are that five years ago (Dairy Australia’s) outlook of possible scenarios weren’t there,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s been an inkling the northern irrigation district is not quite right for some time.

‘‘Where was the forward planning, knowing something was brewing away?’’

But he is hopeful that the Australian Dairy Plan will be a different story and will pave the way for a better and stronger industry.

‘‘Farmers are generally very resilient and adaptable but we’re all tired,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s high time we start talking about the true value of our product.

‘‘Farmers get on with the job but there’s been numerous years where they’ve been under duress.

‘‘They’ve just had enough and they’ve started to speak their mind — because they have to.

‘‘Keep the comments coming.’’

Cohuna dairy farmer and UDV vice-president John Keely agrees that it’s important to ensure ‘‘bang for your buck’’, but said Dairy Australia was dealing with a complex set of problems.

‘‘There are some very broad ideas on how (levies) should be spent,’’ he said.

‘‘There are opportunities for farmers to have their say, but people don’t always go along — which is the frustrating bit.

‘‘Whether the rep from DA is quick enough (to respond) is a different question. That does need to be improved.’’

Ultimately, Mr Keely welcomed the conversation, but said with so many nuances, it was difficult to reach a perfect solution.

‘‘You’re never going to make everyone happy,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s a bigger picture that needs to be remembered.’’