UDV slams failure to help farmers.

Paul Mumford.jpg

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."

Lion Dairy & Drinks agree to sell speciality cheese business to Saputo.

Lion CEO Stuart Irvine announced an update on the sale of Lion Dairy & Drinks (LDD), including confirmation that Kirin and Lion have reached an agreement to sell LDD’s specialty cheese business to Saputo Dairy Australia (Saputo), for AUD 280 million.

“When we announced the decision to progress a sale of the Dairy & Drinks business last year, we made clear our intention to identify the best future ownership arrangements for the Dairy & Drinks business, and to ensure both Dairy & Drinks and the Lion business are ideally positioned for growth – with the right people, assets and investment behind their respective strategies,” said Irvine. 

“As we worked through the sale process over the last several months, significant bidder interest emerged in both the whole Dairy & Drinks business and also in the specialty cheese assets on a standalone basis. After a careful assessment of all options, Lion has entered into an agreement to sell the Dairy & Drinks Specialty Cheese business to Saputo.  Saputo is ideally positioned to drive the business forward, given its deep dairy capabilities, complementary portfolio and commitment to the cheese category domestically.”

The sale to Saputo will include all of Dairy & Drinks’ specialty cheese brands, including King Island Dairy, Tasmanian Heritage, South Cape, Mersey Valley, Heidi Farm and Australian Gold, as well as cheese manufacturing assets at Burnie (The Heritage) and King Island (King Island Dairy and Cheese Store), and the two Lion-owned farms on King Island (Horizon Glen and Kyeema). 

The sale agreement is subject to ACCC and Foreign Investment Review Board approvals and other standard closing conditions and is expected to complete within the second half of calendar year 2019.

In April 2019 Kirin and Lion assessed the fair value of the Dairy & Drinks business. The recent impact of extreme weather on the cost and availability of milk, combined with discussions with bidders to date in the sale process, have led Lion and its parent Kirin to take the step of recognising a non-cash write down of the carrying value of Dairy & Drinks, including the cheese business.

Lion’s non-cash write down of AUD 530 million does not impact the future underlying performance of the Dairy & Drinks business, which continues to benefit from a highly attractive portfolio of market-leading brands in growing categories – including milk-based beverages, yoghurt and premium juice.

“We are continuing to consider various pathways forward for the balance of the Dairy & Drinks business and will take the time to ensure we achieve the best possible outcome over the coming period,” Irvine concluded.

Lion has been advised by Deutsche Bank as financial adviser, with King & Wood Mallesons as legal adviser. Greenhill & Co Australia have acted as independent financial adviser to Lion.

Lion’s alcohol businesses in Australia and New Zealand, and its Global Markets business unit, are not affected by the Dairy & Drinks sale process.

Source: LionCo

Coalition makes multi-million-dollar dairy industry pledge.

Peak dairy farmer group Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) will receive $450,000 for two projects to benefit farmers as part of a $22 million funding package for the dairy industry if the Coalition wins the May election.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud announced a swag of funding and policy commitments today, including that ADF would receive $300,000 to develop a real time dairy payment system and supply chain information sharing capacity using blockchain technology, and $150,000 to develop with processors a simple standard form contract that incorporates requirements of the industry’s mandatory code of conduct.

ADF President Terry Richardson said the organisation supported this windfall for the dairy industry.

“It is fantastic to see a real plan for the dairy industry and delivers on a number of key imperatives that we know will assist the industry,” he said.

“The Coalition has clearly listened to the concerns of the industry and we look forward to delivering on these projects if the Coalition is returned to government.

In addition, the Coalition has pledged:

  • $10 million to support dairy farmers investing in more energy efficient equipment to reduce energy costs through more energy efficient equipment

  • $8.1 million to extend the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) agriculture unit, a significant boost to the $2.7 million outlined in the 2020 budget;

  • $3 million in grants to assist farmer groups to establish farm cooperatives and other collaborative business models;

  • $500,000 to services body Dairy Australia to continue its financial and legal advice service to farmers, and to improve legal and financial literacy for contract negotiations with processors; and

  • and a dairy industry specialist position within the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) agriculture unit;

Today’s funding announcement builds on the Coalition’s $560,000 commitment for ADF to facilitate the development of a new dairy industry trading platform, as well the implementation of a mandatory code of conduct.

Mr Richardson said the organisation was pleased with the commitment to ensure continued funding of the competition watchdog's agriculture unit.

"This is a timely and welcome announcement that will ensure the mandatory code of conduct is appropriately resourced, and the decision to appoint a dedicated dairy industry specialist within that unit is an important step in the process.”

The Coalition’s funding commitment aligns with the election platform released last week by the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) and available here.

Source: Australian Dairy Farmers

Online milk pricing tool to be launched.

A new online tool to allow farmers to compare the milk price they would receive from different processors will be launched at the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria annual conference today (Friday 10 May).

The online tool aims to bring much-needed transparency to the Australian milk market.

The free calculator provides farmers with a transparent and credible source of farmgate milk prices and payment information.

It has been developed by independent milk services company Milk2Market.

“We’ve combined industry experience, published price announcements and publicly available data to produce the best milk pricing tool available,” general manager, commercial development, Richard Lange said.

Farmers can compare payment structures and pricing based on their individual farm system.

“Members across the supply chain as well as government and regulators have been calling for greater price transparency in the dairy industry,” Mr Lange said.

“Our goal is to make buying and selling milk better for everyone,” he said.

“This easy-to-use online tool is free and gives farmers a customised gross annual income estimate based on an assessment of processor prices in their region.”

The Milk Price Calculator is a pre-cursor to the launch of Milk2Market’s Milk Exchange later this year.

The Milk Exchange will enable registered users to buy and sell milk directly via an online platform.

“We expect the calculator tool will help buyers and sellers gain a better picture of the market ahead of trading on the new milk exchange,” Mr Lange said.

The Milk Price Calculator compares milk payments of major selected companies in Victoria and NSW.

Milk2Market aims to extend the service to all states (South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania).

For more information and to access the Calculator visit https://milk2market.com.au/milkcalculator/.

Federal Labor to introduce dairy floor price if elected.

THE Federal Opposition has given the clearest indication yet that a dairy floor price will be introduced by Labor if elected on May 18.

Re-regulation of the sector was floated as an option by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten earlier this year, committing to improve conditions for dairy farmers if Labor won Government.

Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon last week said structural problems in the dairy sector “could not be overcome without government intervention.”

“You can somewhat rebalance the market power between processors and dairy farmers, but dairy farmers will be made price takers,” the Labor frontbencher said.

“So I formed a view that the only way you really help dairy farmers is to set a minimum farmgate milk price. Not a ceiling but a floor price.

It means you would have an entity, possibly the ACCC, determine what is the average price of production in each dairy region, because every dairy region is very different. And having determined that average price, set a minimum price somewhere just above the cost of production.”

United Dairyfarmers of Victoria president Paul Mumford said the organisation welcomed either a Labor or Coalition government working to improve the fortunes of the dairy sector over the next three years.

“Whether a floor price is the right solution, we wait to see, but Joel Fitzgibbon said he would work with the ACCC to evaluate the situation,” Mr Mumford said.

The Australian Dairy Industry Council approached the Howard government in 1999 to deregulate the drinking milk sector.

All state governments then repealed legislation governing milk prices, with state-based milk authorities wound up by July 2000.

The move had a mixed result for farmers nationally, with Murray Goulburn and Bonlac offering higher farmgate prices in Victoria and Tasmania in 2000-01 but a marked decrease for NSW and Queensland producers during the same 12-month period.

Mr Fitzgibbon was asked by The Weekly Times how an Australian floor price would operate in competition with imported produce from New Zealand.

“If we are arguing that the only way to be internationally competitive on export markets is to pay our farmers at or below the cost of production, then we’ve lost the argument,” the NSW MP said.

“If we’ve got to underpay our farmers to be internationally competitive, it’s a market we shouldn’t be in, quite frankly. But that’s not the outcome we want. Of course, we want to be in the market, we want Australians drinking milk produced here in Australia and other dairy products. They are literally facing a crisis at the moment, particularly in areas like northern Victoria. If we don’t have government intervention, we will lose our dairy industry.”

Source: Weekly Times

QDO welcomes Claudia Campbell as new project officer.

Claudia.jpg

QDO has a number of in-field projects in progress or in the planning stages of development. With this in mind, QDO has employed a new graduate recruit, Claudia Campbell. Given barely enough time to get her feet under the table, Claudia is already working on the JD testing program alongside Torie Harrison and Lara Williamson.

Claudia has a Bachelors degree in Sustainable Agriculture - Majoring in Poultry and Livestock Productions. Claudia grew up on the north side of Brisbane but now hails from Lowood.

She has previously worked as a documentation officer for export commodities. Claudia was a state finalist in 2018 for the QCL Miss Showgirl awards.


Scenic Rim and Rockhampton regions now fully drought declared.

Almost two thirds of Queensland now drought declared.

The total area of Queensland that is drought-declared has risen to 65.2% after a significant lack of rainfall across central, southern and south east Queensland.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development Mark Furner said he had accepted the recommendations of local drought committees to drought declare further areas as there were serious concerns around pasture growth and water supplies.

Drought Declared 1 April.png

“The local drought committees (LDCs) from the central, southern and south east Queensland regions have met and assessed the seasonal conditions from April 2018 to March 2019,” Mr Furner said.

“These areas saw significantly-below average rainfall over the last year, and the rainfall they did receive had little impact on breaking the ongoing drought.

“Therefore I have accepted the recommendations of the LDCs and my department to drought declare five additional shires and extend or issue part drought declarations in four others.”

The new declarations cover Ipswich Regional Council, the remainder of Western Downs Regional Council, Scenic Rim Regional Council, the remainder of Banana Regional Council, Gladstone Regional Council, Rockhampton Regional Council, Livingstone Shire and the southern portion of the Central Highlands Regional Council including part of the Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council area, defined as south of the Capricorn Highway.

For help with your Drought Declaration Assistance application contact QDO on 3236 2955

Dairy Australia awards $312k in bonuses; spends $10k on coffee machine.

DAIRY Australia’s outgoing managing director Ian Halliday was paid $773,375 last year, including $312,000 in bonuses, more than three times the performance-based remuneration he received four years ago.

The farmer levy-backed marketing and research organisation also installed a $10,000 coffee machine in its Southbank headquarters, despite being surrounded by cafes, including one in the foyer of its Melbourne building.

A Dairy Australia spokeswoman said most of Mr Halliday’s increase was due to the payment of $312,000 in bonuses, on top of his base pay and superannuation of $461,375.

The financials state Mr Halliday was paid “a short-term incentive up to a maximum of 15 per cent of his remuneration package per annum and a long-term incentive up to a maximum of 15 per cent per annum”.

Mr Halliday’s bonuses had climbed steadily from $102,000 in 2014-15, to $168,000 in 2015-16 and then $235,000 in 2016-17 before hitting $312,000 last year.

Dairy Australia’s cash splash on its managing director was made despite dairy farmer incomes and confidence crashing over recent years as they battled to survive in acost-price squeeze that is forcing many out of the industry.

The annual National Dairy Farmer Survey has shown the proportion of farmers who feel “positive” or “very positive” about the future has slumped from 75 per cent in 2014, to just 47 per cent early last year.

The situation has grown worse in the past 12 months as feed and water prices skyrocketed with the latest survey, conducted in February this year, showing confidence has slumped to an all-time low.

“It indicates confidence is down (to) 30 per cent and a large percentage of businesses are in a holding pattern or are looking to contract,” Murray Dairy chief executive officer Jenny Wilson said.

Ms Wilson referred The Weekly Times to Dairy Australia for details of the survey, but a spokeswoman said it would not be released until the corporation issued its Situation and Outlook Report on June 19. What is clear is just how devastating the dairy crisis has become, especially in northern Victoria and the Riverina, where farmer numbers are down to 900, compared with 2800 in 2000-01.

Over that time regional milk production has fallen from 3.3 billion to 1.8 billion ­litres, with production in southern NSW and the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District forecast to be down by another 20 per cent by the end of this season. Dairy Australia’s2017-18 annual report stated remuneration for directors and Mr Halliday was externally benchmarked against general market data, but the levy-funded body refused to detail that market data.

In regard to the $10,000 coffee machine The Weekly Times asked: why did Dairy Australia spend such a sum, when Southbank was saturated with cafes, one of which is in the foyer of the 40 City Rd building?

A spokeswoman responded by stating: “Dairy Australia is focused on attracting and retaining people with the right talent and skills we need to best support Australia’s dairy industry. This extends to providing a safe, positive and productive working environment for our employees and increasing the functionality of our offices as a collaborative space.”

Dairy Australia has in recent years been plagued with occupational health and safety complaints.

These led to a third of its staff leaving last year, with one case making it all the way to the WorkCover Division of the Victorian Magistrate’s Court last year.

Details of the judgment are unavailable, but a number of disgruntled staff left Dairy Australia in 2017-18 in frustration at the failure to deal with OH&S issues.

Source: Peter Hunt - The Weekly Times

Updated advice on your rights with regards to on-farm incursion: unauthorised access

Important information - please read full article.

The Queensland Government has been working to boost significant the protection to farmers, their livestock and properties this included the development of an Animal Industry Security Taskforce.

The key purpose of this group is to review current policies, legislation and regulations regarding planning and response to animal welfare group activities on farms and other agricultural places of business e.g. feedlots, abattoirs etc.

DAF, QPS and other Government Departments are involved to advise the relevant/various groups on their legal positions, rights and obligations in the event of trespass, break end enter and wilful damage to ensure there is consistency across all industries.

Below is the updated advice and recommended course of action should your farm be targeted.

In the event of trespass

1. Should any unauthorised persons attend any property, the lawful occupier should immediately contact police on 000 if considered an emergency, or Policelink on 131 444 if it is not an immediate threat.

2. Avoid confrontation and violence at all costs. The safety of you and your family is the priority. Don’t threaten to harm and don’t produce, use or threaten to use weapons.

3. Don’t answer any questions, particularly personal ones (other than providing your name).

4. Don’t argue about ideology; this is not about changing minds.

5. Don’t discuss your farming or business practices or disclose where any animals and/or equipment is stored or housed.

6. If it is safe to engage with the trespassers, do continually ask questions and provide clear directions. Repeat the below questions and statements if they don’t respond. Be prepared for the use of slogans.

a. Try to identify the organiser/leader of the group by asking who is in charge.

b. Ask them their names – tell them yours and tell them that you are the lawful occupier. This shows accountability and willingness to be cooperative.

c. Ask them why they are there.

d. Ask who gave them permission to be there. Tell them that they have no permission to be on the property.

e. Acknowledge that they have a right to protest but ask them to leave and move to public property. You can use statements such as ‘I understand your desire to protest, but please go back to the farm gate’.

f. Tell them that this is a place of lawful business and a home.

g. Personalise the experience. State that you and your family or workers are upset or fearful due to their presence.

h. Advise them that they may compromise the biosecurity and health of the animals on the property.

i. Call the police and tell the group that you have.

7. If possible and safe to do so, record actions – use a phone or another video-recording device.

8. Focus on collecting evidence, note:

  • information about the incident i.e. time of entry

  • registration plates or descriptions of vehicles used

  • who seems to be in charge

  • description of persons

  • who said what and what did they say/do.

9. If any animal is injured during or as a result of an incident, contact your private veterinarian.

10. If any animal dies during or as a result of an incident, contact Policelink on 131 444

11. If you have concerns of any incident risking your property’s workplace, health and safety management system contact Workplace Health and Safety Queensland on 1300 362 128 or visit worksafe.qld.gov.au/contact-us

Investigation of matters by police – receiving a complaint

Essentially by being called to a location, police are responding to a report of an offence i.e. a complaint is made.

The successful investigation of offences and the management of incidents is dependent on timely and accurate information being passed to investigating officers. Police officers who receive complaints or reports of offences and incidents are responsible for the accurate collection, recording and dissemination of this information.

First response police officers tasked to attend an occurrence are to promptly investigate the facts and circumstances in order to:

1. identify if an offence has been committed

2. identify potential witnesses and offenders

3. obtain all relevant information

4. safeguard evidence.

Once an offence is identified, police then must consider two factors when deciding to prosecute:

1. sufficiency of evidence, and

2. public interest.

There are a number of aspects of both areas that police must be satisfied with. When they ask a landowner/occupier ‘do they wish to make a complaint?’, police are ensuring that they are agreeable to providing the necessary evidence to commence a prosecution. This may include later providing a written statement and attendance in court as a witness. If they have recorded the actions of the activists, then this can be tendered as evidence.

How to protect your property

People are encouraged to review their enterprise security arrangements to reduce the risk or impact of an unauthorised entry incident. You may want to take into consideration the following strategies which support both increased property security and good biosecurity practices:

  • Limit access points to the property.

  • Make sure all doors, gates and other entry points are locked when staff are not present.

  • Have a biosecurity management plan in place.

  • Display clear and appropriate signage stating entry point, biosecurity and workplace safety requirements.

  • ·Keep records of audits, staff training and biosecurity procedures up to date and at hand.

  • Maintain a safety management system to ensure a safe workplace for yourself and workers, including contractors.

  • Consider the installation of CCTV video surveillance systems.

  • Screen new staff applicants carefully and consider terms of employment.

  • If you receive any threats or believe your farm may be targeted, inform the police by calling Policelink on 131 444.

As of 26 April 2019 – Biosecurity regulation amendment

To further support producers, the Queensland Government has fast-tracked an amendment to Queensland’s Biosecurity Regulation 2016 to address potential biosecurity risks of unauthorised entry to places where animals are kept.

This amendment will take effect from 26 April 2019. Under the amendment, anybody that enters your property must comply with your biosecurity management plan when they enter or leave and while they are on your property. To support the security of your property under this new regulation, livestock businesses are encouraged to:

  • Ensure you are registered as a biosecurity entity with Biosecurity Queensland (registration and renewal fees apply for commercial primary producers)

  • Ensure your biosecurity management plan is up-to-date with information that aligns to the new biosecurity regulation:

  • Industry communique, on-farm incursion: unauthorised entry, April 2019 4

  • For those who currently have a biosecurity plan in place, a checklist is available to support you in upgrading this plan to ensure you have the best possible protection under the legislation. Visit daf.qld.gov.au/biosecurityplan or phone 13 25 23.

  • If you don’t have a plan in place, information on developing a biosecurity management plan which aligns to the Queensland Regulation is available from daf.qld.gov.au/biosecurityplan or phone 13 25 23.

  • Display signs at access points to the property stating that a biosecurity management plan applies to the place. You can download an approved sign at daf.qld.gov.au/biosecurityplan

Lion Dairy & Drinks agree to sell specialty cheese business.

A $280 million agreement will see Lion's Dairy & Drinks (LDD) specialty cheese business sell to Saputo Dairy Australia (Saputo).

Lion's chief executive Stuart Irvine confirmed the sale saying Kirin and Lion reached the agreement to sell.

The sale to Saputo will include all of Dairy & Drinks' specialty cheese brands, including King Island Dairy, Tasmanian Heritage, South Cape, Mersey Valley, Heidi Farm and Australian Gold, as well as cheese manufacturing assets at Burnie (The Heritage) and King Island (King Island Dairy and Cheese Store), and the two Lion-owned farms on King Island (Horizon Glen and Kyeema).

"When we announced the decision to progress a sale of the Dairy & Drinks business last year, we made clear our intention to identify the best future ownership arrangements for the Dairy & Drinks business, and to ensure both Dairy & Drinks and the Lion business are ideally positioned for growth - with the right people, assets and investment behind their respective strategies," Mr Irvine said.

"As we worked through the sale process over the last several months, significant bidder interest emerged in both the whole Dairy & Drinks business and also in the specialty cheese assets on a standalone basis. After a careful assessment of all options, Lion has entered into an agreement to sell the Dairy & Drinks Specialty Cheese business to Saputo.

"Saputo is ideally positioned to drive the business forward, given its deep dairy capabilities, complementary portfolio and commitment to the cheese category domestically."

In April, Kirin and Lion assessed the fair value of the Dairy & Drinks business. The recent impact of extreme weather on the cost and availability of milk, combined with discussions with bidders to date in the sale process, have led Lion and its parent Kirin to take the step of recognising a non-cash write down of the carrying value of Dairy & Drinks, including the cheese business.

Lion said the non-cash write down of $530 million will not impact the future underlying performance of the Dairy & Drinks business.

"We are continuing to consider various pathways forward for the balance of the Dairy & Drinks business and will take the time to ensure we achieve the best possible outcome over the coming period," Mr Irvine said.

Lion Australia is part of the Lion Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kirin Holdings. Kirin is a global, multi-industry food and beverages company headquartered in Tokyo.

Source: The Advocate - April 27