QDO at the EKKA

 Brian with Minister Shannon Fentiman at the campaign launch on Monday.

Brian with Minister Shannon Fentiman at the campaign launch on Monday.

QDO staff have spent the week meeting members, other exhibitors and talking to hundreds of members of the public as we launched the new consumer campaign, Queensland Dairy Farmers. The Cream of Australia.

As the campaign line suggests, this is campaign is a celebration of the Queensland dairy industry; our farmers and the quality milk and dairy products that we make here in Queensland. While TV, radio, social media and in-store material is still a work in progress, the EKKA proved too good an opportunity to miss. 

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With the dairy exhibitors in the new location, the CRT pavilion, the public was given much better access. Located between Sideshow Alley and the Showbag Pavilion, it was the logical stop off point for many families. So while many exhibitors were initially wary of so much traffic, they soon adapted to the circumstances and were then happy to answer the myriad of questions that the public had. 

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The Cream of Australia cutest cow competition also generated a lot of public interest with over 2,000 votes cast.

The exhibitors also got into the spirit - setting up their own voting ballot boxes and cajoling the public to vote. 

It was a highly successful week for Queensland dairy.

Premier launches Queensland Drought Appeal with $100,000 Contribution.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has today launched the Queensland Drought Appeal to help support people in regional parts of the state who have been affected by drought.

Ms Palaszczuk today joined Minister for Agricultural Industry Development Mark Furner and Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA) State President Joy Coulson at the Ekka cattle judging to make the announcement.

“My Government recognises the terrible impact that this prolonged drought has had on people in Queensland,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“With more than half of the state in the grip of a devastating six-year drought, I had no hesitation in lending my support to the campaign.

“Today the Queensland Government has contributed $100,000 to kick off the Queensland Drought Appeal.

“I urge all Queenslanders to dig deep and get behind our regional and rural communities that are currently being affected by the drought.”

Mr Furner said all money raised will go to the QCWA to be spent on the ground to assist those who live in drought-stricken communities.

“While our farmers do it tough throughout this drought, that has a direct flow on effect to many other businesses in rural and regional communities.

“The big dry has hit the economic returns of hard-working Queenslanders in those areas, placing them under severe financial and emotional stress.

“In this financial year the state government committed $34.2 million through the Drought Assistance Package and $4.9 million for rural specific mental health programs.

“This appeal is a way that those of us who live in our cities can help our country cousins.”

Mrs Coulson said the QCWA will administer the proceeds of the appeal.

“QCWA is overwhelmed by the generosity shown by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

“We will ensure we do our upmost to get funds out to those in need struggling through Queensland’s drought affected areas.

“We will endeavour to support all local businesses in these communities through distribution of accounts payable and vouchers,” Mrs Coulsen said.

Requests for assistance of up to $5000 will be considered and funds will need to be used in the local area to purchase food or fodder.

Ms Palaszczuk said donations can be made online at www.qlddroughtappeal.com.au or at any local CBA branch by asking to donate to the “QCWA Qld Drought Appeal”.

“I thank the Commonwealth Bank for making its network of branches available to help receive donations,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Telstra have also provided the ability for television viewers and spectators at the Ekka to donate from their smart phones by texting the word drought to 0484 200 200.

“No donation is too small. Every dollar will help.”

“Broadcast partner the Seven Network, will host a 7 News Special: The Queensland Drought Appeal, live from regional Queensland on Saturday 1 September at 7pm to highlight the stories of our farmers.

“Shane Webcke will embark on an outback tour of towns hard hit by the drought and share his journey during nightly news broadcasts to promote the Queensland Drought Appeal.”

The appeal will remain open for at least three months.

All donations of $2.00 or more to the appeal are tax deductible.

Online Donations:       www.qlddroughtappeal.com.au

SMS donations:           SMS drought to 0484 200 200

At the Ekka:                 CWA Tea Room John McDonald Stand

Phase two of the  Large Customer Adjustment Program now open for applications.

This program provides assistance to large electricity customers in regional Queensland who are currently on transitional and obsolete electricity tariffs.

Benefits to participants
Successful customers taking part in the program will receive a:

  • free energy audit and advice
  • co-contribution grant to help implement energy management strategies.

Phase 1 of the program provided assistance to 10 customers. Applications are now open for Phase 2, which will provide assistance to a further 30 customers.

Free energy audit and advice
A free audit will help identify energy management strategies that can help save money and better manage electricity use. It will also provide advice on how to integrate these strategies into business operations while transitioning to the most suitable standard electricity tariff.

Government co-contribution grant
Subject to the outcomes of the audit process and the agreement on grant terms, eligible participants will receive a government co-contribution grant to support implementation of the audit recommendations, including plant and equipment upgrades. The amount will be up to 50% of implementation costs, capped at $250,000.

Who can apply?
You could be eligible for the program if you:

  • control a site located in regional Queensland on the Ergon Energy Corporate Ltd network, with a minimum of 1 electricity network connection point
  • use more than 100 megawatt-hours of electricity on average per year
  • are on a transitional or obsolete regulated retail electricity tariff (i.e. tariffs 20L, 22L, 37, 47, 48, 62, 65 or 66) face a significant increase in annual electricity bill when moving to a standard electricity tariff have not been (or been selected to be) a recipient of significant funding or an AS/NZS 3598:2014 energy audit (types 1-3) within the last 5 years under another Queensland Government energy efficiency program, including the following:
    • Irrigators Energy Savers Program
    • Energy Savers Plus Program
    • ecoBiz and Phase 1 of the Large Customer Adjustment Program (Note: an ecoBiz coaching session does not always constitute an energy audit compliant with AS/NZS 3598:2014).

How to apply
Before applying, read the application guidelines (PDF, 124KB) to make sure you meet eligibility criteria and understand your responsibilities.

Unity vital for dairy code reform.

A stronger dairy industry Code of Practice would include a formal dispute resolution mechanism and penalties procedure to solve conflicts between farmers and processors, according to Australia’s peak dairy farmer group.

Australian Dairy Farmers recognises and supports the need for enforceable measures to protect farmers as the advocacy body gears up for an extensive consultation process that will consider feedback from milk suppliers.

"We absolutely want to achieve the best outcome for farmers, which is why we are taking a thorough approach to strengthening the industry Code of Practice and presenting this to industry for consideration," ADF President Terry Richardson said.

"All state dairy farmer organisations supported a review and strengthening of the Code of Practice, but unfortunately there has been ongoing agitation around which direction the industry should head, which is only distracting us from achieving genuine reform."

Industry body the Australian Dairy Industry Council, which Mr Richardson also chairs, has engaged legal counsel to provide technical advice to be incorporated into a second version of the Code.

"We are extremely aware that the industry is waiting for an outcome of this review, but we must ensure all reasonable steps are taken to address the issues identified by the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) report in a way that assists farmers," Mr Richardson said.

"While we understand the desire for action, conducting this review in a considered and comprehensive manner should be an expectation that farmers have of their national representative body. Whatever decision is made, this will be a significant step with long-term ramifications for the industry, so we must get it right."

The competition watchdog acknowledged the "positive impact" the current code had on contract terms offered by processors to farmers in the 2017-18 season, including improvements to mechanisms for setting and varying prices, exclusivity supply clauses and loyalty payments.

Mr Richardson said the current code was devised with the intention that it would be amended and strengthened based on feedback from across the dairy supply chain.

"This Code of Practice was always a first draft and must be viewed in the context that only a little over a year ago there was no mechanism at all in place to assist farmers with their contractual arrangements with their processor," he said.

“There was always an intention to review the code after the first twelve months.”

The ADIC has consistently stated that all options will remain open in reviewing the code. Mr Richardson said in May that “nothing is off the table” in the ADIC review.

"The review will determine how effective the Voluntary Code has been and whether it is necessary to adopt a different approach. This could be a Prescribed Voluntary Code, Mandatory Code or another mechanism altogether."

Source: QFF

What you need to know about the Farm Household Allowance.

The ongoing effects of the drought continue to hurt our dairy farmers. While it is sometimes hard to ask for help, we encourage members to reach out for any and all assistance that can be provided, including the Farm Household Allowance.

You can apply online or through your local Rural Financial Counselling Service.  Local contacts for RFCS are: KINGAROY - Belinda Clair 0448 999 742; WARWICK - Micheal Fagg 0419 732 591; TOOWOOMBA 0447 764 483. If there is no RFC Service in your area, you can contact your local access point e.g. Post Office, Courthouse to apply.

Payments are income based and can be up to $445.80 / fortnight (single) and up to $492.80 each / fortnight (married). This benefit runs for up to 4 years. If married, they can run into 8 years if taken singly by a couple.

As well, an activity supplement of $3,000 per person can be received to be used for improving farm financial viability e.g. have an agronomist visit / succession planning training / obtaining a HV Drivers licence PLUS a further $1,000 per person in the 4th year may be paid out.

Once all documentation is received, approval for the allowance takes approximately 21 days.

Pressure on banks to offer farmers more flexibility.

Farmers facing drought are being offered greater financial flexibility by Australia’s largest agricultural lender.

The National Australia Bank (NAB) has announced it will no longer charge penalty interest payments on farmers who fall into debt on their loans.

Farm management deposits (FMD) allow farmers to remove money from their taxable income during good years to later use during tough times and NAB will now allow farmers to offset these deposits against their loans.

Until now Rural Bank was the only lender to allow the FMD offset since laws were changed to allow the practice in 2016. One in three farmers bank with NAB so pressure is on the other big banks to make the change. Agriculture Minister David Littleproud is urging others lenders to follow suit.

“This is an investment in agriculture’s future and farmers can now vote with their wallets. I hope other Aussie banks follow NAB’s lead and get on board,” Littleproud said. “If you’re a farmer whose bank doesn’t offer an FMD offset, you can tell them to bugger off because there are banks now which do.”

Speaking about penalty interest payments for farmers in drought, Littleproud said, “I don’t think the charge truly reflects the cost to the bank. It’s really a kick in the guts when someone’s down, which isn’t the Australian way.”

Updated Biosecurity Manual for cattle ticks.

Biosecurity Queensland has updated the Queensland Biosecurity Manual in relation to cattle tick management with updates coming into effect on 3 July 2018 with the release of the 8th version of the Queensland Biosecurity Manual.  The most significant update allows for an additional pathway for processors and producers to choose from when moving high risk carriers from the cattle tick infested zone to abattoirs in the cattle tick free zone.  The additional option may allow producers to remove, or at least minimise, the need to chemically treat high risk carriers immediately before movement to an abattoir.

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This update is supported with the release of a new procedure and guides to assist you to meet your obligations when consigning and receiving cattle.

The update provides additional flexibility for carrying out low risk activities with the following benefits:

  • Provision of an alternative mechanism for moving high risk carriers from the cattle tick infested zone to abattoirs in the free zone
  • Greater flexibility in marketing options
  • Reduced reliance on chemicals and reduced risk of residues in meat and meat products
  • Improved opportunities for organic beef production systems
  • Improved animal welfare outcomes through reduced handling.

The update provides a balance between protecting the cattle tick free zone from the introduction of cattle tick and allowing reduced restrictions for the movement of stock that pose a low risk of spreading ticks.  To ensure that the cattle tick free zone remains cattle tick free, all other requirements under the Biosecurity Act 2014, Biosecurity Regulation 2016 and Queensland Biosecurity Manual remain in place.

We would encourage all members to review the updates online.

Milk Price Index launched

Dairy farmers will be better able to understand and interpret commodity market price signals following the launch of the new Milk Price Index today.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud said the index would provide farmers another source of dairy market information.

“Farmers will be able to see an index of commodity prices received by Australian dairy processors for cheese, butter, skim milk powder and whole milk powder exports,” Minister Littleproud said.

“There will also be a one-year forecast of prices that will be updated quarterly, along with regular global, national and regional commentary.

“A Retrospective Farmgate Milk Price Index will also assist farmers. Once farmers begin providing prices via an online form, an index of actual prices received in each of the eight dairy regions will be built.

“The more dairy farmers take part, the better this index will be.

“The commodity milk price index will be an extra tool to help dairy farmers plan ahead, with more market information on commodity dairy prices and global conditions.

“Better price transparency and market signals for farmers is a good thing.

“We continue to consult industry and welcome feedback.”

The index is part of the government’s $579 million Dairy Support Package assisting farmers affected by retrospective cuts to farm gate milk prices in 2015–16 and is being managed by the Department of Agriculture. The Department will also work with industry to educate farmers on how best to use and interpret market signals from the index.

Deloitte Access Economics is providing the economic modelling and analysis and RM Consulting Group is developing the education resources for dairy farmers.

Source: Minister Littleproud Media Office

Malanda Show still a favourite in the North.

Coinciding with school holidays, the Malanda Show was a big hit last weekend and made it the perfect time to meet QDO members coming in to watch the dairy judging.

Despite the sticky mess that was the Malanda Milla-Milla road gaining more publicity than the Show, visitor numbers were good and the winter drizzle didn’t keep the crowds from enjoying themselves.

  Congratulations  to Colin, Owen Daley and family for Supreme Champion Cow - Ourway Goodas Hilin of Ourway Holsteins

Congratulations  to Colin, Owen Daley and family for Supreme Champion Cow - Ourway Goodas Hilin of Ourway Holsteins

The show was an opportunity for QDO’s marketing manager, Sarah to meet members and discuss the issues that are specifically pertinent in the North. The issue of oversupply and the freight levy being paid by Lion suppliers was raised by many.

With a single major processor operating in the far North, farmers are held over a barrel with regards to farm-gate prices and a surplus freight levy paid by farmers to have milk transported into South East Queensland. Lion has (and is still) investigating alternate uses or product lines for the 4 million litre oversupply, there is still no solution in sight meaning farmers are disincentivised to grow their businesses.

While the slated Go Local consumer-focused campaign will boost branded milk sales in the short term and the farm-gate price certification trademark will help customers make more informed decisions about the brands that support the dairy industry, QDO will continue to look at other avenues including a review of the viability for an export market both in the North and in South East Queensland.

Families show support for the local dairy industry.

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Last Saturday, Kay and Dave Tommerup opened their farm gates to the curious public as part of the annual Scenic Rim Eat Local festival.

It was a frosty start for those eager to watch the cows being milked and ask questions, but the early start didn’t deter many young families from attending. The numbers steadily climbed as they opened the homestead gates at 10 am.

 Many thanks to QDO member Peter Rohan for his time.

Many thanks to QDO member Peter Rohan for his time.

“Last year, we had almost 800 people and it was chaotic. We learned our lesson and capped the numbers this year which was much more manageable and allowed Dave and me a chance to talk to visitors and answer questions” said Kay. This year 400 pre-registered visitors made the trip to Kerry to see what life on a working dairy farm was like.

It wasn’t just the kids that wanted to be part of the action, parents got as much enjoyment from feeding the farm’s animals including calves, lamb, sheep and heritage breed pigs; learning about the food-cycle and sustainable farming practices.

“We educate visitors about the natural food chain and how we ethically manage our animals. We don’t try to sugar coat that these animals are bred to be food, but we don’t scare the kids either” said Dave. “It’s important that people understand and appreciate that farmers do the right thing by their animals from when they are born to when they leave the farm.” 

“We are a micro-dairy; we can’t afford to buy more land and we won’t compromise by using unsustainable farm practices to increase the heard. We are already doing everything we can to keep the farm afloat. We run Homestays, educational tours for school children, a long table lunch as well today’s event. Within the number of hours we have left in a day we’ve got only one other viable alternative and that’s to build a Creamery” said Kay.

Through crowd-funding site Indiegogo, the campaign hopes to raise enough money to build, equip and start up the Creamery on the farm. This will allow thousands of agri-tourists that visit the property to get a chance to see how butter, yoghurt, ice-cream, and cheese are made.

The Tommerups looked to access a small business start-up loan from the Queensland Government but unfortunately, the farm does not have a high enough turnover to meet the funding criteria and they are determined to not go into further debt with the banks.

 “We know that our ($70,000) goal is high but the people who came here today really seem to want to support the Queensland dairy industry and also the Indiegogo campaign, so that’s been really encouraging for us,” said Kay.

To get behind the campaign go to Indiegogo