Incoming leader of dairy farmers lobby will draw on his background in crisis management

It has appointed a person experienced in crisis management as the lobby’s new chief executive.

David Inall will start in the lobby group’s role in July, after more than four years in the United States.

Mr Inall helped steer US egg farmers through the worst disease outbreak in American history with avian influenza in 2015.

About 50 million birds were destroyed to try to halt the disease, with the majority of those birds egg producers.

“It was like nothing the United States had ever seen,” the senior vice president of United Egg Producers, Mr Inall, said.

“What we did was work very closely with our membership, and compartmentalised into a number of issues.

“We worked in teams, and identified the tasks, like; depopulation and disposal, indemnity and USDA payments, and moving money across from the White House to make sure the USDA would be able make those payments, and thirdly developing the very complex issues of a vaccination policy.”

“In these types of jobs we get distracted by exchange rates, the weather, or other governments’ policies, over which we have no control.

“But if you identify issues you’ll create value back to your members, and things you can exert control over, then that’s where you need to focus.”

But is he prepared for the constant flux of the dairy industry at the moment?

In recent weeks, the ACCC launched Federal Court action against Murray Goulburn (MG) alleging unconscionable conduct by MG towards farmers.

Then MG announced the closure of three dairy plants in regional Victoria and Tasmania, and “forgave” the farmers’ debts.

“It’s an interesting part of this type of work, the continual change,” Mr Inall said.

“When you drive to work, you don’t really know what’s waiting for you, and that’s not the career that everyone is cut out for.

“But we always have a good team around us, and I enjoy the challenge.

“We know that everyone has to meet the needs of their particular [stakeholders] either shareholders or suppliers in our case.”

American farm lobby groups appear much more powerful, with more access to support from the US Government, and that was a contrast not lost on Mr Inall.

“I believe it comes down to forming a strong alliance and having a strategy,” he said.

“Here in the United States, farmers are very good at working together with other sectors.

“When they determine they need a change, whether it’s issues at the moment like the North American Free Trade Agreement or the US pulling out of the Trans Pacific Partnership.

“You’ll find those affected industries pulling together very quickly and going to the Congress building and very aggressively pushing their case.

“In Australia too often you see people go off separately and sporadically.

“I’ve always tried to form a group of like-minded people, and I’ve always said ‘A problem shared is a problem half solved’.

“I’ll enjoy forming friendships between dairy and other sectors, including the National Farmers Federation and the states [farmer organisations].”


Source: ABC



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