IT’S almost 18 months since The Weekly Times exposed just how reliant Australia’s peak dairy farmer lobby is on funding from the nation’s 11 milk processors.
Farmers were concerned this reliance left the Australian Dairy Farmers exposed to enormous pressure from processors.
Just how much pressure was revealed this week by an industry source, who told The Weekly Times two processors threatened to withdraw funding if ADF did not oppose a mandatory code of conduct on supplier agreements.
As we pointed out last week every state dairy farmer lobby, except Victoria, supported a mandatory code.
Yet ADF and the processor lobby — Australian Dairy Products Federation — drafted similar submissions to the nation’s competition watchdog opposing a mandatory code, a code designed to give farmers greater bargaining power in negotiations with processors, and greater transparency on the price they are being paid.
Dairy farmers should be alarmed at the allegations made against both lobby groups and the clear conflict that exists.
ADF and ADPF are standing by a voluntary code of conduct on processors. Meanwhile ADF president Terry Richardson seems to be trying to smother debate on a mandatory code, telling farmers it would take years to develop, citing the horticulture code, which he says took five years to develop.
The fact is the horticulture code started off as a failed voluntary code. It then took 18 months to develop a mandatory code in 2007. Like all codes it had to be reviewed every five years, with the latest version released last year.
The actual time to develop and deliver a mandatory code is 12-18 months. It’s time for the ADF to either step out from under the funding yoke of processors, or for farmers to find another national lobby group to represent them.
Source: The Weekly Times