The Dairy Plan needs fresh eyes to unify.

Peter Graham is a NSW dairy farmer who has been invited to contribute an opinion piece on the Dairy Plan for this week's QCL 

Earlier this year, I was asked to weigh in on the proposed Dairy Plan and my personal hopes for the industry based on its success.

My hope was for the Plan to help unify the dairy industry in Australia. Many farmers from across the country heartily agreed and believed it to be fundamental for the industry to survive given the current economic climate and conditions.

But since July nothing of substance has come from the Dairy Plan Committee (DPC) except the formation of yet another committee by a different name. To quote from their media statement, the Joint Transition Team (JTT) was set up to “examine existing dairy industry organisational arrangements and recommend transformational change options to reform industry structures”.

If the DPC thought that constructing another committee was going to win over the farming community, they’ve sorely misjudged. In fact, farmers are far from impressed.

Not only is there speculation over the selection process, no one knows why another group of people was required to undertake the most important task of the whole Plan.

If it was because the DPC saw a conflict of interest, why then, is this new team filled by individuals who have held positions with ADF, DA, The Gardiner Foundation, VFF, UDV, NSWFF, and QDO to name just a few noteworthy acronyms listed from the JTT members’ CVs.

Why aren’t we paying actual professionals whose jobs are to recommend transformational change for our businesses?

Where are the people from KPMG, McKinsey or Ernst & Young? That they haven’t got their shoes covered in cow muck does not make them less qualified for the task. It probably makes them more qualified to approach the issue in a business-like fashion since they would not be bringing personal histories or preconceived ideas to the table.

I cannot think of a single rational reason for the way things have been progressed. I’m sorely disappointed that this Plan, that was heralded as our industry’s silver bullet has become such a mess.

We need to look at the overall structure of the industry and we need to do it better and be more cost-efficient. We need open communication and we need to remove all the biases that are creeping into these vitally important decisions.

Most importantly, we need our leaders to consider what is good for the unity, the betterment and the future of our industry. Let's get this job DONE.

NSW Dairy Farmer – Peter Graham