DA’s Ian Halliday told the annual United Dairyfarmers of Victoria conference, in Melbourne, the organisation had just signed off on a new three year plan, when the crisis hit.
The plan assumed an income of about $63million.
“Milk volumes are probably going to be down about seven per cent, on a national basis; year to date, just for Victoria, volumes are down about nine per cent,” Mr Halliday said.
“With the corresponding drop in milk price, we will see a corresponding drop in income of about eight to nine million dollars, this year, and at least for the next two to three years.”
He said this forced DA to redo its strategic plan, having to take out 15 per cent of its operating costs.
“We have had to let people go and rethink some of our programs – it’s about $28 million, over a three year period, we had to take out of our plan.”
He said DA was still committed to helping farmers become profitable and build capability.
“Every conversation we tend to have with discussion groups, with farmers, it always comes back to people - so we want to make sure that building capability, from a people perspective, is first and foremost in our thinking.”
He said that would account for more than 60 per cent of spending, over the next three years.
Core programs, around animal health, genetics and herd improvement, would also continue.
These included the farm business management tool, Dairy Base, which now covered 1200 farmers.
Mr Halliday said DA would also be looking to help farmers cope with volatility from milk price fluctuations, climate and water prices.
“We want to make sure we have tools and programs, which help farmers deal with volatility,” he said.
It was encouraging to see the latest national dairy farmer survey had seen the number of producers doing an annual budget rise from 48 to 52 per cent.
A farm safety manual would also be rolled out, later this year, after six deaths on dairy farm, nationally, in the last year.