DESPITE some delays due to the coronavirus crisis, the SA Dairy Industry Action Plan is still heading towards its 2024 goals, according to SA Dairyfarmers' Association chief executive Andrew Curtis.
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One year ago, the state’s dairy industry launched its five-year plan to help build the SA industry.

Mr Curtis said in the past 12 months, there had been positive steps taken, with one of the biggest outcomes in the strengthened partnerships across the supply chain.

“We’ve got dairyfarmers working more closely with processors, and I think that’s a key win,” he said. “Some really important evidence that it’s working is the signals we’re getting about processors wanting more milk.”

He said there was improved communication coming from processors to producers, which indicated local processors would need at least 200 million litres of milk across the next three years.

In the 2018-19 financial year, Dairy Australia figures show SA dairyfarmers produced 496,211,764L of milk.

Mr Curtis said even with the COVID-19 pandemic, there was still some confidence about strong market demand going forward.

“There is an underlying optimism from the processors we’re working with that’s giving us positivity going forward,” he said.

Another key step forward from the plan is towards building a “resilient, well-trained” workforce.

At the October dairy summit, Golden North managing director and Dairy Industry Association of Australia SA representative Peter Adamo proposed an SA-based centralised learning hub, that could help train a labour force in all aspects of dairy production.

Mr Curtis said they have been in talks with training providers, including tafeSA and Skilling SA, about developing new, dairy-specific, vocational courses.

He said the focus had been on the processing side, with talks about allowing graduates to be fully-trained in value-adding, building on from cheesemaking courses to potentially ice cream, yoghurt or butter.

“We’re supporting a resilient workforce with a depth of knowledge that will have the ability to evolve and create new products,” he said.

“We want to ensure we have a production workforce to continue expansion.”

He said they were also on the “cusp” of an opportunity to have a “revitalised training opportunity” through the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site – Lot 14.

“At an industry level, we need to have leading-edge training facilities,” he said.

Mr Curtis said the pandemic had complicated the roll-out of some of these courses.

“Certainly there are things that can be taught about dairy processing online, but it’s hard to teach the taste and smell outcomes, so we’ve got a bit of a hold up there,” he said.

Another key area the plan is focusing on is the push for “premium” products, which will be aided by a partnership with the federal government, through applications for a traceability grant from the Department of Agriculture.

“We recognised through the action plan, and confirmed at the summit, there is an opportunity for premium products,” he sad.

“We need the traceability around being able to demonstrate it is a premium product, right through the chain.”

Mr Curtis said there had been good progress in the past 12 months, which would continue.

“(This year) will refocus how we do some of the things that are needed, but the goal won’t change – we’re not stopping,” he said.

Global Dairy Trade Event #306 concluded with the aggregate down 2.9%. Cheddar cheese was down 0.1%. Whole Milk Powder was 4.9% lower. Skim Milk Powder fell 0.6%. Butter dropped 1.0%

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