It’s a long, 38-item, list and Australian Dairy Farmers’ policy and strategy director Craig Hough said every single one was important and would boost members’ bottom lines.
The big ticket items, he said, included the workforce strategy to help overcome labour shortages as well as climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Still, it was clear both he and ADF chief executive David Inall had a favourite: making sure the elderly get enough dairy in their diet.
“A new big ticket priority would be the fractures research and prescribing minimum standards in aged care around nutritional standards,” Mr Hough said.
“That’s a demand-side intervention but it plays into the issue around malnutrition.”
He said research showing the risk of bone fractures could be reduced with dairy consumption, while deficiencies in the diets of aged care residents had been identified by the Royal Commission.
The finding made this, Mr Hough said, the perfect time for the federal government to develop national mandatory minimal nutritional standards for food provision in residential aged care.
The long-running campaign to stave off European claims that would prevent Australian dairy manufacturers using common dairy food names like Gruyere, on one hand while on the other, demand the word “milk” be reserved for dairy only, would continue.
“ADF is calling on politicians to address misleading product labelling and marketing, including from plant-based alternatives to dairy, as well as trade barriers and supply chain constraints,” Mr Hough said.
Another delicate topic on the ADF election list concerns investment in research and development.
Pointing to flatlined productivity over the last decade, the peak body was an increase in agricultural R&D funds, but Mr Hough said it was not suggesting an increase in the farm levy.
Mr Inall said dairy farmers seemed content with Dairy Australia’s work on genetics but ADF would seek more input on DA’s direction.
“It’s going to be a bigger project for us next year,” he said.
DA had invited ADF to have “wider and deeper” discussions about its five strategic plans, which would begin in January.
To grow jobs and liveability in regional areas, the ADF will ask for $300 million in funding for the National Agriculture Workforce Strategy, which would include agriculture in the school curriculum as well as improving training opportunities.
It also wants government to encourage more exploration and development of fertiliser production in Australia.
Environmental strategies include investing in the recommendations of the Dairy Industry Adaptation Pathways and Northeast Dairy Climate Futures projects; implementing the recommendations of the Productivity Commission’s evaluation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan; and providing a second round of the Energy Efficient Communities Program – Dairy Farming Grants.
Mr Inall said ADF would meet with key representatives of all the major political parties in 2022.
ADF hoped to enlist the state dairy organisations and their members in canvassing politicians, too.
“There’s nothing more important than boots on the ground and farmers going into electoral offices out in their country towns,” Mr Inall said.
As well as releasing the comprehensive election policy statement, the ADF would produce flyers and talking points for farmers keen to lobby their local members of parliament.