Single dairy entity

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

The formation of a single, new whole of industry national dairy organisation is the key recommendation from the the Joint Transition Team (JTT) of the Australian Dairy Plan.

The proposed national body (referred to as ‘NewCo B’ in the report) would see the current range of national and regional dairy organisations brought together as a one stop shop for all industry services including policy, advocacy, R&D and marketing for dairy businesses across the entire supply chain. 

It would operate through one national brand and a network of regional offices providing tailored local services.

The proposed new organisation would be member owned and overseen by a skills-based board. 

Farmers would contribute a single levy payment for all services (through the existing Dairy Service Levy) and processing companies would also provide funding.

Eligible expenditure on research and development would continue to attract matched funding from the Commonwealth Government.

JTT chair and dairy farmer Shirley Harlock said the analysis confirmed a widespread view that 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,’’ she 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.’’

Local dairy farmer and JTT member Malcolm Holm said on the whole, dairy farmers would not see too much change if the new model is implemented.

While it would be a national body, Mr Holm said there would be opportunities to have a state or region specific focus under the one umbrella.

He said the new model would also incorporate processors under that umbrella for the first time, and would require processors to financially contribute like farmers do through the levy.

‘‘The main benefit is that we get rid of duplication,’’ he said.

‘‘Locally, at the moment, we have four different organisations — Murray Dairy, NSW Farmers’ dairy committee, Dairy Connect and UDV — and under this model we’ll have one organisation that would be very well resourced.

‘‘Groups that feed in to Murray Dairy, for example, will still remain.

‘‘Right now we have about 16 different regional and state organisations, and the model proposed would reduce that to about six.

‘‘The new structure is about having less organisations, greater accountability, and cost savings.

‘‘It’s about having a model that will accommodate today’s realities (that the number of dairy farmers is reducing) and look to the future.

‘‘It is similar to the port model which has worked quite successfully for a number of years, and if the industry embraces it we see it has the potential to maintain the strength we have while delivering better outcomes.’’

The JTT was formed as part of the Australian Dairy Plan, in response to overwhelming feedback from across the dairy industry about the need for transformational change to industry structures and advocacy arrangements.

Independent chair of the Australian Dairy Plan Committee John Brumby said further consultation will be needed to shape and refine the preferred model, particularly in relation to governance matters.

When complete, which he anticipated might be mid this year, the model will be tabled for a vote.

Feedback on the report’s recommendations can be provided via dairy industry member organisations or directly by email to [email protected].