Plans to create a unitary dairy organisation fusing advocacy and industry services have been officially shelved today.
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In a statement this morning, it was confirmed the administrative objective outlined by the Australian Dairy Plan had been axed, more than a year after it was first proposed.

The joint communique from Australian Dairy Farmers, the Australian Dairy Products Federation and Dairy Australia acknowledged the whole-of-industry concept had been “ambitious.”

Dairy Australia chairman James Mann said the key tenet of the Australian Dairy Plan would compromise government investment in dairy research and development.

“The proposal to create a single, whole-of-industry body was always considered to be ambitious,” Mr Mann said.

“After extensive consultation, it is clear that restrictions prevent the use of levies for agri-political activity.

“An all-in-one industry model is unable to address the priority of a stronger and more unified industry voice, as it cannot accommodate the requirement for independent representation.

“It would also compromise government investment in (research, development and extension).

“Other models that combine advocacy with levy funded industry services cannot progress at this time for the same reasons.”

Former Victorian premier John Brumby launched the Australian Dairy Plan in December 2009 with the “whole-of-industry” group as one of its key objectives over the coming five years.

However, the start of pandemic restrictions in Victoria in late March 2020 slowed down the push towards the sector restructure.

The conduct of the major processors was a main source of contention for farmers under the plan, particularly Fonterra, Bega and Saputo’s lack of financial input towards Dairy Australia.

Australian Dairy Products Federation president Grant Crothers identified a revived Australian Dairy Industry Council as an interim measure following the axing of the unitary authority plans today.

“The reform process has identified a priority need for a ‘whole of industry’ voice that can represent common issues to both dairy farmers and processors,” he said.

“The revival of an appropriately resourced and well-funded Australian Dairy Industry Council would be an interim measure ahead of any other proposal.”

Australian Dairy Farmers president Terry Richardson said an administrative shake-up was still needed in order to reach the objectives of the Dairy Plan.

“Dairy organisational reform is an industry priority and is necessary to achieve a more profitable, confident and united industry and to fully realise the benefits offered by the Dairy Plan,” he said.

“Reform aims to deliver a stronger and more unified industry voice with an ability to champion common issues, as well as represent diverse views across the dairy supply chain.

“It also works to strengthen advocacy and streamline execution of whole-of-industry strategic priorities.”

THE Dairy Industry Code of Conduct has brought about a “significant culture change” within the dairy sector and helped increase competition at the farmgate, according to Australian Competition & Consumer Commission deputy chair Mick Keogh.

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