By QDO Vice-President Matthew Trace
Let’s be clear from the start, I believe the Queensland dairy industry needs a shakeup. Not change just for the sake of it, but rather through a calculated approach with clear aims, actions and results. Queensland dairy farmers are calling for Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO) to advocate and implement programs and pursue a policy agenda that has direct hip pocket outcomes for farmers. As the newly elected QDO Vice-President I intend to bring enthusiasm and resolve to deliver the results that directly improve our members’ bottom lines.
A critical issue the dairy industry faces is farm finance and succession planning. My own recent experience in seeking finance to purchase a farm as well as my involvement as a QDO representative in the Young Dairy Network has shown me these issues are not isolated, but rather sector-wide. The financial obstacles faced by those wanting to enter or grow a dairy business in Queensland are currently insurmountable for our industry’s next generation.
The problem is three fold: young farmers are unable to establish their own business; those looking to exit the industry have limited options to sell and lease; and expansion is tough enough without unaffordable finance issues.
Recently QDO has secured funding to run a program that will start to address this issue. The Queensland Government has provided QDO with funding based on a need to build greater resilience in our industry post-Cyclone Debbie. Resilience on farm will be improved through better financial planning, farm succession and improved infrastructure to mitigate the risk of losses from severe weather events.
For our members, this will mean a pilot program with an extension officer starting in Scenic Rim and Lockyer Valley regions, followed by a wider rollout after testing is complete and funding is secured. The program will mean direct action and on-the-ground support for dairy farmers to gain better access to finance that will help our industry grow sustainably into the future.