A good industry is one built on trust, transparency and a ‘fair go’ for all.
United Dairyfarmers of Victoria president Paul Mumford has slammed processors, retailers, government and industry organisations for not doing enough to help dairy farmers.
In a hard-hitting address to the organisation’s annual general meeting in Melbourne on Friday, Mr Mumford challenged all sectors to do more to alleviate the pressure on farmers.
He later told the Australian Dairyfarmer farmers were exhausted to a point where they were unable to continue in the future.
«We’ve got to change that,» he said.
He pointed in particular at processors and retailers for not sharing enough of their profits with farmers.
«Essentially they are protecting their own nest,» he said.
«They are part of the food chain from paddock to plate and they haven’t realised the value of the supply chain.
«They are looking after their own little piece of their own little investment; we’ve got to start looking at the whole system.»
He questioned why milk processors, who were giving signals of strong pricing for next season as they chased milk in the face of falling on-farm production, had not lifted current season prices.
«The roles that processors play here in Victoria must be addressed,» he said.
«A good industry is one built on trust, transparency and a ‘fair go’ for all.
«Since 2016 our relationship has been fractured and the wounds have not healed.
«We are looking for a show of goodwill; recognition from you of the importance of having a strong relationship with your farmers.
«Will you step up and make a genuine commitment to work hand-in-hand with us to take our industry forward?»
Mr Mumford also slammed retailers and said the recent rise in $1 a litre milk was not enough to help farmers.
«We’ve got to look at whole dairy cabinet,» he said.
«It is just not the 10 cents a litre (rise).
«That is misinforming the consumer … allowing them to think that 10 cents is the saviour to the dairy industry.
«That is not right; we have to look at the $6 cheese, the cream, the butter.»
Mr Mumford said irrigators in northern Victoria, who had shown extreme efficiencies, appeared to be continually asked to deliver more to the Murray Darling Basin Plan when other states did not show the same technological improvements or commitment to efficiency.
«I am disappointed to say that our farmers and their communities in the north have been let down by industry, processors and governments,» he said.
Mr Mumford asked governments if they would commit to engaging directly with farmers.
«Where are you?,» he said.
«Will you commit to … getting out to the farms in the regions to see first-hand what impact these conditions are having on family farm businesses and their communities and work with us to deliver solutions?»
He also criticised Dairy Australia for not taking greater action to prepare farmers for this situation.
«What happened to our industry preparedness?» he asked.
«Why were our levy investments not better targeted to deliver the preparedness required?»
Mr Mumford also questioned Australian Dairy Farmers’ approach to long-term advocacy challenges, such as those posed by animal activists.
«Are you a best practice advocacy organisation well placed to deliver for members?» he asked.
Mr Mumford said the new Dairyplan must provide more than a website and a nice brochure.
The plan must deliver on its promise.
It was vital every dairy farmer across the state was engaged in the Dairyplan.
«I highly recommend everyone have their say in the Dairyplan,» he said.
«If the Dairyplan says the UDV has to have its head chopped off and a new structure formed, then that’s what has to happen.
«We’ve got to look at what the benefit for the dairy industry is and not just my role or ADF role or Dairy Australia role.
«We’ve got to look at the big picture and then enact it.»