DA board hopeful calls from NZ to join race

DA board hopeful calls from NZ

Dairy
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A DairyNZ researcher and agricultural economist whose family farms in NSW is phone canvassing farmers in a bid to join the Dairy Australia board.

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AUDACIOUS: Mark Neal, an Australian working for DairyNZ, hopes to run for the Dairy Australia board.

AUDACIOUS: Mark Neal, an Australian working for DairyNZ, hopes to run for the Dairy Australia board.

A DairyNZ researcher and agricultural economist whose family farms in NSW is phone canvassing farmers in a bid to join the Dairy Australia board.

Australian expat Mark Neal needs 100 DA member signatures to force an election for a DA board position after his application was rejected by the Board Selection Committee.

Mr Neal is a dairy systems specialist with DairyNZ, the equivalent of DA in New Zealand, and trained as an agricultural economist at the University of Sydney.

His brothers milk 1100 cows in Taree, NSW.

The motivation to join the DA board, he said, was to help improve the "trajectory of the Australian dairy industry, which is not positive".

"A clear vision is one in which half of dairy farmers have a 6 per cent or better operating return on assets and half of dairy processing capacity has an operating return on assets of 6pc or better," Mr Neal said.

"If we're not making more money than the banks we're borrowing from, we're not doing well."

Mr Neal said there was a lot Australian dairying could learn from international experience and through greater cooperation with the NZ dairy industry.

"We don't want an inward-looking industry, we want an outward-looking industry," he said.

"In terms of dairy sector competitiveness, the reality is that pastoral dairying has very small research and development funding pools and by pastoral dairying, I'm talking about places like Australia, New Zealand, Ireland.

"I think we can achieve a lot more by working more closely together.

"The real competition is confinement dairying, for example, what you see in the US and a lot of Western Europe, China."

Mr Neal will remain in NZ if he wins the DA board position as the role only requires 30 sitting days a year.

"International links to R&D should be highly valued, not seen as an impediment," he said.

Mr Neal said he stayed in touch with Australian dairying via media reports and his expanding network of contacts.

"If there are any burning issues, more than 100 dairy farmers now have my home phone number and I'll soon find out about them," he said.

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