Access to skilled overseas workers now easier for Australian dairy farmers.

Dairy farmers now have more opportunities to attract and retain staff, after skilled overseas workers employed under a Dairy Industry Labour Agreement were made eligible for permanent residency.

The changes were successfully progressed by the Australian Dairy Farmers, working closely with Dairy Australia, making the Australian dairy industry more attractive to skilled international labour.

The pathway gives dairy farmer Kristen Clark, from Finley, NSW, the opportunity to retain her skilled overseas worker who has developed a strong understanding of her farming system.

The fifth-generation dairy farmer milks 900 cows in the Riverina region alongside her mother, Helen and sister, Donna, producing more than eight million litres per year.

Kristen employs four family members on the farm, as well as five long-term local staff.

With farm workers increasingly hard to find in her local area, Kristen has employed a farm hand from Guatemala for the past five years under a temporary visa through a Dairy Industry Labour Agreement.

"We have always struggled to build our workforce and fill positions by getting locals on the farm," Ms Clark said.

"We fill the gap with overseas workers, but the issue is that is they're only able to be here for a limited time and they're generally unskilled.

"The person we've employed has a built her skill base working for us -- when she finishes up, we have to start from scratch with someone else."

For each new farm worker Kristen employs, she estimates the cost to her farm business to be about $2000 in recruitment and training.

As well as reducing the cost of hiring new farm workers, the permanent residency pathway gives Kristen the opportunity to give her staff more training, building their capacity to learn new skills as her mum takes a step back from hands-on tasks.

Kristen also sees permanent residency as an opportunity for her overseas workers to get more involved in the local community.

"We want to employ people who live in our community, so we can give back to our community, but there will always be gaps to fill," she said.

"People with permanent residency can fill that gap, because they get involved in the community as well."

Farm hand Janeth Ventura is excited by the opportunities a permanent residency pathway will bring for her family and her dairy career.

The 36-year-old has raised her two children, aged 3 and 6, in Australia and hopes a permanent residency pathway will allow her to continue living in rural Australia, creating more stability for her family and her role on-farm.

"My father had a small dairy farm in my home country, so I'm in my element with this job and I love working with Australian dairy cows," Ms Ventura said.

"I think working in Australia has improved my skills -- I've learned new abilities because the farming system is so different."

Through a permanent residency pathway, Ms Ventura hopes to upskill and pursue further training.

To vary existing labour agreements or apply for a new labour agreement to enable a pathway to permanent residency for their valued staff, farmers should email: labour.agreement.section@homeaffairs.gov.au.

More information on the Labour Agreement can be found at the People in Dairy website at thepeopleindairy.org.au/visa.

Source: FarmOnline.com.au

Dairy groups split on Coles move to buy directly from farmers.

The Coles move to buy milk directly from farmers has split dairy advocacy groups.

NSW Dairy Connect was glowing in its praise of the move, Australian Dairy Farmers cautiously welcomed it ,while the Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation said it was difficult to trust the intentions of the supermarket giant.

As the new arrangements will apply only in Victoria and central and southern NSW, the QDO stance at this stage is largely academic as its members won't be affected but it reflects the Queensland organisation's moves to position itself as a leading national organisation.

Coles announced last week it would start sourcing milk directly from farmers in Victoria and southern and central NSW from July.

Saputo Australia would continue to pack the milk for the supermarket chain's discount lines, which have sold for $1.10 a litre since March.

Coles has put out the call to Victorian and NSW farmers interested in contracting their milk production to send in an expression of interest.

It said was also "looking for opportunities" to expand its direct buying footprint to other milk-producing regions.

Dairy Connect welcomed the announcement that Coles was side-stepping the processor in NSW and Victoria.

"While stakeholders had yet to have access to the fine print involved with the proposal, on face value, it provides a pathway to the future for the milk supply chain," Dairy Connect president Graham Forbes said .

"Notionally, the proposal should deliver price-certainty for up to three years for dairy producers supplying Coles house brand milk."

The plan would address a number of complaints the farmers had about the existing system.

But QDO said while Woolworths had a direct relationship with farmers through its Farmers' Own brand, this was a premium brand that sold at more than $1.50/L, while the Coles deal would apply to its private label milk, that sold for $1.10/L.

QDO said it expected dairy farmers who supplied Coles to receive the full 10c/L the supermarket had promised would be directly passed on to farmers when it lifted the retail price earlier this year.

It also expressed concern about the potential power imbalance between Coles and its suppliers.
The QDO said farmers, as small business owners, already struggled to negotiate with multinational processors for a fair farmgate price. 

It asked what hope would an individual farmer have to negotiate a fair and sustainable farmgate price when up against the might of Coles.

"At this stage, the nuts and bolts of how and what this relationship and process will look like is pure speculation, with only Coles knowing truly what its intentions are," QDO executive officer Eric Danzi said.

The supermarket should be lifting its price of fresh milk to pre-2010 levels.

"What we need to ensure is that this does not give Coles even more power over dairy farmers and does not allow Coles to revert to $1/L pricing," Mr Danzi said.Australian Dairy Farmers said more competition for milk was healthy and the Coles deal had the potential to provide greater transparency within the dairy supply chain between farmers and retailers.

But although saying it was hopeful, it wanted further information about how the deal would work.
It also called on Coles to commit to ensuring that $1/L milk never returned to its shelves.

The most unsustainable part of the dairy industry was the lack of value being returned to farmers through the domestic market.

ADF said it was imperative value was delivered through the supply chain, with farmers receiving their fair share for the hard work, risk and investment they had in this industry. 

This included farmers securing their fair share of future retail price increases across the dairy cabinet.

Source: Farm Online. This story first appeared on Australian Dairyfarmer

Can we trust them? QDO takes on watchdog role following Coles' announcement.

Coles’ announcement that they intend to bypass processors and start a direct relationship with dairy farmers came as surprise to most within the industry and many are trying to determine what position to take. Given Coles’ previous history with the dairy industry, it is difficult to trust the intentions of the supermarket giant.

While Woolworths has had a direct relationship with farmers through Farmers’ Own, this brand competes with other premium branded white milks at a price point above $3 for 2 litres. Coles, however, intends to sell its farm direct milk as its private label.

Coles has previously committed to ensuring all of the additional 10c/L added to its milk price is passed through to farmers. It would be expected that this latest announcement will see dairy farmers who supply Coles receive 10c/L, or around $1.30/kg of milk solids, above previous prices they received.

In their statement, Coles cites its existing ‘successful’ direct producer relationships to show that this proposed model can work to provide health profit margins for both retailers and the farmers.

The 2018 ACCC report into the dairy industry identified the imbalance of power within the value chain as the key to the failure of the dairy industry. The Mandatory Code of Conduct for the dairy industry, that is currently being drafted as a direct result of this report, seeks to address the imbalance of power between farmers and the processors.

As individual small business owners, farmers have struggled to negotiate with multinational processors for a fair farm gate price. One must question then, what hope an individual farmer will have to negotiate a fair and sustainable farmgate price when they go up against the might of Coles.

 The fact is that Coles is capitalising on consumer sympathy for the dairy industry. The massive support that consumers gave dairy farmers during last year’s Drought Relief campaign has prompted Coles to use this to boost sales of its discount product lines over branded milks. Consumers will undoubtedly believe that this new arrangement has been designed to benefit the farmer and therefore support it.

 “At this stage, the nuts and bolts of how and what this relationship and process will look like is pure speculation, with only Coles knowing truly what its intentions are” said QDO Executive Officer, Eric Danzi.

 “We need to work with the supermarket giant to increase the RRP price of fresh milk to pre-2010 pricing. In today’s market that would equate to around $1.50/L. which would allow farmers to receive a fair farmgate price.

 What we need to ensure is that this does not give Coles even more power over dairy farmers and does not allow Coles to revert to $1/L pricing”.

 <ENDS>

 For media enquiries please contact Sarah Ferguson 0424 416 317.

Coles to cut out milk processors, and deal directly with dairy farmers.

Coles has announced it will bypass processors and contract milk directly from dairy farmers in NSW and Victoria from July 1.

Key points:

  • From July 1, Coles will bypass milk processors and deal directly with farmers in NSW and Victoria

  • Coles has not revealed a price, but says it will be a "competitive farm gate price"

  • The cost of homebrand milk will remain unchanged, despite the deal

In the past, Coles has used processors to source milk for its homebrand products, with Norco contracted in NSW and Queensland and Saputo sourcing milk from Victoria and Southern NSW.

The new model will offer longer term contracts that allow farmers to choose from one, two or three-year contracts.

It marks a shift to a model more in line with competitor Woolworths, where the supermarket will be able to offer a direct price to farmers.

Coles chief operation officer Greg Davis said in a press release it would offer a "competitive farm gate price", but did not specifically reveal a price.

"In addition to offering a fair and competitive price, dairy farmers will have more choice regarding the length of contract and more certainty around income," he said.

"If the model works as we hope it will, we will look for opportunities to expand the footprint to other milk-producing regions and potentially other products in the dairy case."

The ABC understands Coles representatives have met with farmers in Victoria over the past few months.

Coles said it would also contribute an additional $1.9 million for research into the Coles Sustainable Dairy Development Group.

The cost of homebrand milk for two and three-litre milk will remain unchanged at $2.20 and $3.30 respectively.

President of farm group Dairy Connect, Graham Forbes, said Coles appeared to be adopting a model common among UK supermarkets such as Tesco.

It was unclear how Coles contracts and pricing would be structured, however some farmers were hopeful long-term contracts would help give them more security.

Coles said it would offer a guaranteed price for two years and a floor price for the third year.

"It will put a bit more competition out there in the marketplace, and let's hope it lifts the price to farmers and gives them some long-term security," Mr Forbes said.

"It will be very interesting to see how it impacts on Saputo suppliers currently in NSW.

"There is a lot of competition from Parmalat at the moment, Lion has been a bit quiet while it's up for sale, but it will be a very interesting few weeks to see how the processors respond."

David Inall, representing Australian Dairy Farmers, said he was surprised by the announcement.

"It came out of the blue, it's early days, we're not aware that any farmers are contracted to Coles at this stage, but we look forward to more detail around contract and prices," Mr Inall said.

"They have told us that they will offer a price that they believe will be in the top quartile of what is currently on offer, which is certainly an encouraging sign, which will make it very competitive."

Mr Inall expressed concern that this could lead to a return to $1 per litre milk.

"But we'd also expect that this will not see a return to $1 per litre milk, that they have not created this model to slide back to $1 dollar per litre milk — that's a debate we don't want to have again," he said.

Processors face fierce competition for milk

According to food industry analyst and director of Fresh Agenda, Joanne Bills, there were reasons why supermarkets were moving to deal directly with farmers.

"In the UK supermarkets have found that you can add transparency to the supply chain and also implement specific processes, standards, or animal welfare requirements," she said.

"But in Australia it could be looking to avoid some of the fallout from the $1 per litre milk, similar to the way that Woolworths has with its 'Farmer's Own' brand."

Ms Bills believed that, while the fresh milk market represented only a fraction of the Australian dairy industry, the move to deal directly with farmers would add new competition and complexities for processors.

Coles declined an interview with the ABC.

Source: ABC News

World Milk Day to highlight the crisis within the Queensland dairy industry. What you need to know.

Saturday June 1 is World Milk Day. It is meant to be a celebration of the dairy industry and an acknowledgement of the value of dairy in our diet and lifestyle.

This year however, we need the International Milk Day to be used to highlight the desperate state of the dairy industry in Queensland.

The bald fact is that the Queensland dairy industry can no longer meet its domestic market consumption requirements and we are unlikely to recover production volumes to meet domestic demand.

Drought conditions and the poor farmgate price for raw milk have led many farmers to sell up and leave the industry. Not only is this devastating for the farmers, their family and communities involved, but it is sad for all Queenslanders who love their dairy.

On average, Australians consume 102 litres of fresh milk per person, per year.

In years gone by, around 95% of all milk produced in Queensland went into fresh milk product; that is, fresh bottled milk. The 5% remaining was used by small processors manufacturing boutique cheeses, yoghurts and ice-cream. Now, milk needs to come from interstate to meet our state’s consumption.

Consumers and the media are somewhat fickle in their attention to the climate conditions that farmers are still facing. The rain received in the coastal regions over the Easter period led most Queenslanders in major cities to believe that the drought that was so widely covered by the media in 2018, was over.

Only one month ago, the Queensland Government was forced to extend the drought declared mapping area to include all the Scenic Rim and Lockyer Valley, Burnett and Rockhampton regions. Now a staggering 65% of Queensland is drought declared and the Bureau of Meteorology do not have any hopes of unseasonable falls over the coming months.  

Farmers continue to struggle with the price of feed and now water for irrigation is fast becoming a point of major contention across Australia.

The end of $1/L milk was certainly a win for dairy farmers in Queensland. It not only gave farmers a price increase but clearly showed the market that farmers would no longer accept retailers setting a minimum RRP for fresh milk.

One thing however still mars the success of the campaign. It is a widely held misconception that those farmers supplying a processors without a generic contract currently receive no income from the 10-cents a litre.

It is in fact only a portion (around 30%) of most farms’ milk that is allocated to private label (Coles/Woolworths/Aldi and IGA home brands) receives the 10-cent price increase. What this means is that farmers are on average receiving only around 3-cents more per litre across their full volume.

“We didn’t hear a single complaint from shoppers when the price of private label milk increased by 10 cents. As our research showed, shoppers are happy to pay more if it helps the farmers and helps ensure they get fresh milk in future. This doesn’t just apply to cheap milk, but to branded milk too” said QDO Vice President Matthew Trace.

“Unfortunately, help has come too late for many farmers and we’ve lost the ability to supply 100% Queensland made milk unless farmers can make a sustained profit.

While our farmers appreciate the price increase and appreciate the support that consumers have shown, the 10-cents increase needs to be applied to all the milk we produce. All processors need to utilise the opportunity that the end of $1/L milk provides them. They have to have the guts to increase the RRP for branded milk and pass that full increase back to their farmers. That way they will be able to secure their milk supplies by ensuring that dairy in Queensland is profitable” said Mr Trace.

ENDS

QDO welcomes new members and new species.

With the average price of JD tests ranging between $400-700 by qualified vets, it makes sense for those dairy farmers who are not currently members of QDO to sign up now.

Over the past 12 months, QDO has transformed its core agenda from simply traditional advocacy to action. We have gone from being a relatively small voice in to be a leader within the Industry.

Politicians, Government departments and the media turn to QDO first to find out the facts and strategies being undertaken to help the dairy industry get back on its feet.

We have been working hard to gain media and consumer support to put pressure on processors and supermarkets; to provide members with sustainable farm gate returns and QDO will be introducing a number of consumer focused initiatives in 2019 that will drive the farmgate price towards a fair, equitable and sustainable figure that aligns with CPI changes.

The ‘End $1L milk” campaign nationally was perhaps our most notable success, but we have several other projects on the go that will ultimately lead to greater sustainability and profitability for our members.

Last year, QDO reached out to buffalo, goat, sheep and even camel dairy farmers inviting them to attend a Queensland Government procurement workshop along with cattle based dairy processors. While there are only a small number of non-cattle dairy farmers in Queensland, they share several issues regarding feed and water costs, biosecurity and animal welfare. These farmers were not represented by any advocacy group, so it made sense to offer them membership to QDO.

While sadly, we have seen several members leave the industry over the last year, we have also had a number of new farmers join QDO including The Australian Dairy Buffalo Company in Far North Queensland.

It is hoped that over the next year, more non-cattle dairy farmers will take advantage of QDO membership.

Sunshine Coast dairy bottles new markets and jobs.

Kenilworth Dairies will conquer new markets and create up to 24 direct and indirect jobs thanks to grant funding from the Palaszczuk Government.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said Kenilworth Dairies was one of 15 businesses in Queensland to receive a Rural Economic Development (RED) Grant to help fund the expansion of their business.

“Kenilworth Dairies is a well-known local dairy producer in the Sunshine Coast area with a strong reputation for producing high-quality dairy products and the funding will go towards establishing their own bottling plant,” Mr Furner said.

“The project is expected to create five jobs through the construction phase with another 24 direct and indirect jobs upon completion to carry out business operations.”

Kenilworth Dairies owner John Cochrane said the RED grant would help cover set up costs and the purchase of equipment for the bottling plant.

“We will use the money to purchase equipment used to pasteurise the milk and set up a laboratory to monitor the milk for quality and safety purposes,” he said.

The bottling plant will help Kenilworth Dairies complete their product line, which includes yoghurt, cheese, mousse and ice cream.

“We want to become a completely independent local dairy provider and the new equipment will help us achieve this by adding bottled milk to our product range,” Mr Cochrane said.

“The plant will process approximately 12,000 litres of milk per day, sourced from our current dairy production and will be distributed to local consumers in the Sunshine Coast area.”

The Rural Economic Development Grant program offers emerging projects up to $250,000 in co-contributions to build industry and grow employment opportunities across the agricultural sector. The $10 million grants program provides for three funding rounds over a three-year period ending 2021.

A total of 15 businesses have received $3.3 million under the first-round of funding for the RED Grant program. Overall these 15 projects are expected to create more than 600 jobs across the agricultural sector in regional Queensland.

Funding for Round 2 of the RED Grants will be announced later this year.

The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) administers the RED Grant scheme on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

For more information about the RED Grant scheme visit www.qrida.qld.gov.au

Competition for cutest cow wins over show goers.

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Once the set activity list has been completed and books are stamped, teachers can be at a loss to keep their students interested throughout the day when visiting this year’s Gympie Show; not so this year.

The Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO), brought The Cream of Australia’s Cutest Cow in Show competition to the region and asked primary school students to become chief judges.

“Most show goers wouldn’t know how to judge a good dairy cow, but they do know what they think is cute” said Communications Manager for QDO, Sarah Ferguson.

“The students certainly had clear ideas as to what made for the cutest cow.”

Over 750 entries were submitted for the competition from primary school students from the Gympie region. The winner, Sundar Sovereign “Lilly” was a young Swiss Brown Heifer bred by the Brown family of Curra with over 140 votes registered.

Lilly’s owner, Owen Brown said “It helped that Lilly was placed in the front stalls where most people walked by. It was nice to see so many kids interested in the cows”.

While simply good fun for the dairy farmers who are exhibiting, the competition has an important aim.

“Many young children are disconnected from where their food comes from” said Ms Ferguson. “We hear many kids tell us that milk comes from a fridge. Shows like Gympie give them a chance to see a dairy cow and to meet a real farmer”.

The Cutest Cow of Show will be held at five regional shows throughout Queensland this year

Biosecurity management plan: upgrade checklist.

If you have a biosecurity management plan (the plan) in place, use this checklist to include all required information to ensure the plan aligns to the regulation.

  • Ensure the plan is clearly titled ‘biosecurity management plan’ and add a section that states ‘this is a Biosecurity management plan in accordance with Section 41B(1) and (2) of the Queensland Biosecurity Regulation 2016’.

  • Include a statement that the purpose of the plan is to: ‘State the measures to prevent, control or stop the spread of biosecurity matter into, at, or from the management areas as defined in your biosecurity management plan, pursuant to the Queensland Biosecurity Regulation 2016’.

  • Clearly identify all the potential biosecurity risks to your property posed by the entry of people.

  • Include a clearly defined biosecurity management area where the plan applies (a map or diagram of the place is recommended). If you have areas of different risk on your property where special requirements apply (e.g. the piggery, a calf rearing shed, feed pens) then define these clearly. Required entry/exit points and designated tracks would also be useful.

    • Display signs on your property that clearly identify those different areas.

  • Clearly define the measures a person is required to comply with when entering, present at, or leaving any management area at the place.

  • Describe the measures as clearly as possible so there is no confusion or ambiguity as to whether and how the measure must be complied with.

  • You must make a copy of the plan available for inspection, on request, during ordinary business hours.

  • It is recommended that you ask any person entering your property to confirm they have read and understood the plan is in existence and they understand their obligations under it.

  • Consider whether it is a reasonable requirement to require visitors entering the management area to record in a register some or all of the following:

    • personal details

    • vehicle details

    • purpose of their visit

    • a declaration that they have read the plan and they understand the measures they must comply with when entering, being present at, or leaving the place.

  • Clearly display signs positioned at access points to the management area on the property. The signs need to state that a biosecurity management plan applies to the place and that it is an offence for a person entering, present at, or leaving the management area to fail to comply with the measures stated in the plan unless the person has a reasonable excuse.

  • Include a contact number and ensure you or property manager can be reached to make the plan available for inspection upon request during business hours.

If you don't have a biosecurity management plan in place, a template is available from Animal Health Australia.

Source: Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries