Single body recommended for dairy industry

By Geoff Adams

A single new, national body should be created for the dairy industry, a report has found.

The new one-stop shop organisation would be responsible for advocacy, marketing, research and development and policy development.

Australian Dairy Plan independent chair John Brumby said the recommended change was a "significant" shift from the current fragmented nature of the industry.

The new body would be funded by the current dairy levy on all farmers, but processors have been invited to contribute as well.

The new organisation would be based in Melbourne but continue with representation in the major dairy regions.

Mr Brumby said the new model should be put to a vote of dairy farmers about mid-year.

Farmers heavily criticised industry advocacy bodies in a series of workshops held to discuss the dairy plan last year, and also argued that bodies like Dairy Australia should be doing more to lobby for farmers.

The new report released today makes the following points about current arrangements:

● There are fragmented and divergent views promoted by different groups.

● Mixed and conflicting messages are being given to government.

● There is adverse media coverage of industry conflict.

● Politicians are using mixed messages to advance their own political advantage.

● Individuals are using social media to amplify personal criticisms.

Joint Transition Team chair and dairy farmer Shirley Harlock said the team's analysis confirmed a widespread view that the current industry institutional arrangements were no longer fit for purpose.

“Our report recommends the creation of a dynamic new national organisation to provide leadership and services for the Australian dairy industry,” Mrs Harlock said.

“Although we present three different strategic options in our report, we believe a fully integrated services model is best placed to achieve the transformational change sought by dairy businesses — out of the patchwork of different national, state and local industry representative organisations which currently exist.”

Mrs Harlock said the operating environment for the dairy industry had changed dramatically over the past two decades.

“It is time to move on from the industry institutions that helped us succeed in the past and create a new unified, world class model that can really perform and meet the needs of modern dairy businesses from across the value chain.”