Clear themes delivered

By Country News

More than 1000 farmers, service providers, processors, retailers, investors and other key stakeholders associated with the dairy industry, have voiced their views about what is needed to shape the future of Australian dairy.

Between May and July, feedback was delivered on the Australian Dairy Plan at consultation workshops, one-on-one interviews and via the plan’s online forum.

The feedback revealed a number of consistent and clear themes on what is needed to get the industry to a better place, with contributors to the plan identifying that there is a need for industry bodies to do things differently — with a clear aim to have a stronger, more united voice and a need to consider structures that make advocacy more effective.

It was also highlighted that more emphasis and industry investment was needed in promoting the inherent benefits of dairy.

With a lot of misinformation about the health benefits of dairy and the way it was produced, contributors said there needed to be greater focus on reinforcing the value of dairy to consumers.

Many contributors also reinforced the importance of addressing social license and environmental issues in best positioning the industry in a world of increased consumer scrutiny, choice and competition.

Challenges around ‘‘attraction’’ to the industry were also voiced, noting there was a need to do a better job of presenting what a successful career in dairy looked like, the many career pathways, and the opportunity to build skills essential to dairy farming and manufacturing.

The feedback also recognised the increasing complexity in running dairy businesses, with greater risk and volatility.

Australian Dairy Farmers president and Australian Dairy Industry Council chairman Terry Richardson said now was time to take action on what was heard.

‘‘Input at workshops has reinforced some big challenges for dairy and we need to now move forward and take steps too prioritise and establish options on how to address these,’’ Mr Richardson said.

Dairy Australia chairman Jeff Odgers said the input was key in informing where the industry needed to head.

‘‘The contribution of farmers, processors and all of industry will inform the creation of the road map towards a dairy industry that is more profitable across the supply chain, more confident about competing at a local and global level, and more united,’’ Mr Odgers said.

The Australian Dairy Plan partners — Dairy Australia, Australian Dairy Farmers, Australian Dairy Products Federation and the Gardiner Dairy Foundation — will hold a two-day national workshop on July 30 and 31.

The Australian Dairy Plan National Workshop will bring together a representative group of leaders from across the country to review themes from the broader industry consultation workshops, along with other key inputs and expert opinions.

Priorities and the approach to addressing these challenges will also be discussed, to help inform the development of the plan.

Following the workshop, there will be further opportunities for industry to input into the development of the plan before it is finalised at the end of the year.

■Further contributions can be made at: www.dairyplan.com.au