Positive engagement

By Geoff Adams

Engagement by farmers in the development of the Australian Dairy Plan has been excellent, Dairy Australia chairman Jeff Odgers has told the Dairy Research Symposium at Bega.

‘‘At the outset of dairy plan roll-out, the partner organisations... put together a situation analysis paper to try to define our current situation nationally; a state of industry report,’’ Mr Odgers, who farms at Ardmona, said.

‘‘Essentially it says that in terms of global competition, and markets have evolved faster than the rest of the industry in Australia.

‘‘On-farm profitability has become more difficult with regional differences.

‘‘We know Australia is a dry continent and we are experiencing something with climate change and we have a variable climate.

‘‘It makes it pretty challenging to farm, given the shifts in marketing that we are seeing.

‘‘Seasons are changing significantly and affecting farm systems.

‘‘As people in dairy we have to continue to adapt and get in front of that if we are to succeed.

‘‘The skill base for dairy farming in this country just keeps getting broader.

‘‘That is being reflected in workshops, we have had 24.’’

Mr Odgers said engagement in the 24 workshops held across Australia had been excellent, with about 1000 people attending.

‘‘The themes have been consistent: Farmers are looking for leadership. They want a voice and they want to speak to governments and consumers about the value of dairy.

‘‘They also want to talk about attracting people to the industry.

‘‘There has been recognition that we must continue to make gains as we respond to increasing complexities of doing business.’’

Mr Odgers said there would be a national workshop held in Melbourne at the end of July when they brought together about 150 people to build on the back of what had already been discovered in the workshops.

‘‘This is a really critical time and the plan will work with all the industry to find the answers we need,’’ he said.