This will be the first time in 10 years that we will have a say as to the amount that levy payers will need to contribute into the future.
In reaching a decision as to how to vote in the dairy levy poll or indeed whether to vote at all will depend on how you feel Dairy Australia has delivered for you and your dairy farm over the past years.
There are differing views as to their effectiveness. Some consider that they provide a worthwhile service while others do not see the value in where their levy dollars go. Some farmers would prefer to use the money themselves to ensure their sustainability for their farms and families.
This is why it is important that dairy levy paying members have a say in the differing options being put forward for consideration, even if it is to keep the status quo.
There are four options being proposed before voting commences on February 24, being no change to the levy, an increase of 15 per cent, an increase of 20pc (which is recommended by the Advisory Committee) or an increase of 25pc.
I personally remain disappointed and concerned that the Advisory Committee did not include an option to decrease or remove the levy. I know that many farmers have expressed this same disappointment to me over the past months.
It is no secret that this is the reason that I and another member of the Advisory Committee, who is based in NSW, resigned from the Advisory Committee last September. I do not regret that decision and continue to believe that it was the right one at the time.
It has been, in some ways, a flawed process. Yet the outcomes of the vote remain important to eastAUSmilk members in Queensland and NSW and it is important that our levy paying members have a say. A message must be sent to those making the decisions.
Last week, the board of eastAUSmilk considered the differing options that dairy farmers will be given to vote upon.
Like me, the eastAUSmilk board was concerned that not all options will be provided to dairy farmers to consider, however, it was decided that it is still important that our members have an opportunity to have their say.
Your vote and its outcome will assist me and the other senior members of eastAUSmilk in continuing to advocate for appropriate accountability by Dairy Australia in the delivery of its legislated obligations.
At the end of the day, this is not only about research and development but also about leadership within the dairy industry.