By Brian Tessmann, QDO President
It is my pleasure to report that the QDO 2016 Industry Forum held last week in Toogoolawah was a success. The forum included a range of interesting speakers who presented and answered questions from over 85 engaged dairy farmers and industry service providers from throughout the state.
First speaker, Queensland Senator Barry O’Sullivan, spoke passionately on the need for farmers and QDO to work alongside other industry bodies in ‘maintaining the rage’ on essential issues for our sector. It was up to us to hold the Federal Government to account on issues such as improving domestic market fairness and competition through its promised ‘effects test’ laws. The Senator said that even though was personally behind the reforms, he and others like him needed ongoing support from industry and the public to ensure the reforms were delivered as promised.
Attendees were also eager to hear the managing director of Au Lait Australia Steve Laracy’s vision and plans for the infant formula plant proposed for the Wellcamp industrial site. There were many questions and queries from farmers around how and when this operation would setup and operate and its potential to diversify the Queensland milk and dairy market. While it was clear that the project was at an early stage there was considerable interest and even some cautious excitement about the project.
The Department of Agriculture & Fisheries (DAF) outlined recent changes to the Biosecurity Bill, with particular reference to changes to the tick line and the containment of Bovine Johnes Disease (BJD). The presentation was followed up with series of questions from farmers highlighting the challenges and concerns many in the industry had about changes to Biosecurity regulations framework in Queensland.
Throughout the day one theme remained consistent and penitent, the issue of ensuring extra income was passed down the value chain to the farm gate from increased branded milk sales. The recent success enjoyed through the QDO led “I buy branded milk” campaign made for an engaging context. Despite recent difficult times the forum is proof that dairy farmers are engaged and looking for opportunities with the industry.