Will new management at Dairy Australia herald a new era for the Queensland dairy industry?

It was announced last week that current Dairy Australia Managing Director Ian Halliday will be stepping down from his role to take up government roles of Consul General and Senior Trade Commissioner to Dubai.

David Nation has been appointed as his replacement. David is a known figure to Dairy Australia, being a co-director of Dairy Bio and Dairy Feedbase and was also the former Dairy Futures CRC Chief Executive.

For Queensland dairy, it is hoped that the new appointment may be a catalyst to change the emphasis regarding research and development for the sub-tropical dairy region.

QDO has identified several areas that need addressing, namely more digestible perennial tropical pastures, long-term financial advice, managing and eradicating cattle ticks and combating acaricide resistance.

In recent decades the focus of RDE development to find better species with considerable productivity gains has been on temperate grass species only. This work has assisted farmers in temperate regions to increase production while reducing costs but has been without benefit to northern regions. The three quality pastures most important to Queensland dairying namely the Kikuyu, Seteria, and Panic grass species have been overlooked. It will be a watching brief to see what Dairy Australia plans in this area.

Similarly, a lot of work has been done in Queensland on ensuring that the dairy industry is resilient to climate and market forces. Recent workshops undertaken by QDO have highlighted that our farmers need improved financial analysis and planning advice. If we are to ensure that dairy farming in Queensland can be sustained long term, we need to continue to back these ventures. Funding to ensure we can continue these workshops will be high on our agenda with David at the first opportunity.   

Another, uniquely Queensland issue are cattle ticks. The tick infected zone comprises the coastal area east of the Great Dividing Range and north of the Great Northern Rail line in Queensland.

Ticks are well recognised as a major threat to the Queensland dairy industry, but currently, there are no national programs looking to address this. There are a considerable number of acaricides approved for use in the beef industry but are not registered for dairy particularly lactating dairy cows with few new ones in the pipeline.

The cattle tick is an economically serious external parasite. It is one of the most economically important diseases of cattle in northern Australia. If left unchecked, cattle tick can significantly reduce cattle live-weight gain and milk production.

It is hoped that a concerted effort is put into issues that are specific to dairying in the northern regions.

A better partnership with Dairy Australia will mean a brighter future for the dairy industry in Queensland.

QDO President – Brian Tessmann