With the dairy industry Mandatory Code of Conduct expected any day now, it is crucial that we as an industry do what we can to get it right.
Whilst consultation on the code has been long and arduous, once it is implemented the legislation will be here to stay.
United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) has provided numerous submissions and met with key stakeholders over many months to ensure the voices of Victorian dairy farmers are heard.
UDV has called for dairy farmers to not be subject to the same penalties as processors.
Penalties need to be reflective of the capacity to pay; it is simply unfair to expect a farmer to pay the same amount as a large corporate processing business.
Our submission also called for 'good faith' provisions to apply to all dairy processors in the industry.
If a dairy farmer milking 80 cows has to abide by 'good faith' provision in the code, then a processor operating under $10 million turnover should too.
UDV believes that processors should be required to release non-exclusive Standard Form Agreements annually, and that farmers should have the option to negotiate for an exclusive agreement.
This will allow for innovative pricing models, such as a digital milk trading platform.
UDV also called for a ban on unilateral variations to contracts, combining exclusive supply and tier pricing to be prohibited, a standardised 14-day cooling off period and a mandatory requirement for milk supply agreements to provide for mediation.
Industry did find many loopholes in the Mandatory Code exposure legislation.
However, UDV with the other State Dairy Farmer Organisations (SDFOs) and Australian Dairy Farmers, has worked with government to strengthen the code to help ensure that provisions were in place to protect farmers.
With many areas strengthened, the code should protect industry from ever landing in the dark place we found ourselves in 2016.
It was pleasing to see industry work together in a unified approach to start rebuilding trust along the supply chain.