Dairy advocacy reform groups have little room for farmers

Dairy advocacy reform groups have little room for farmers

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Former Meat & Livestock Australia managing director David Palmer is acting as engagement lead for the reform process.

Former Meat & Livestock Australia managing director David Palmer is acting as engagement lead for the reform process.

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Of the 16 working group members who will steer dairy advocacy reform, only three are dairy farmers.

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Of the 16 working group members who will steer dairy advocacy reform, only three are dairy farmers.

As reported in Stock & Land, the Australian Dairy Plan last week announced the establishment of three working groups to present recommendations to the newly-formed Organisational Reform Steering Committee: processor involvement, governance and representation.

"It was up to the chairs of the steering committees," said Australian Dairy Farmers president, Terry Richardson of the group memberships.

"I appointed them to the various working groups and then they went and approached others to sit on that particular working group they were responsible for, and have drawn from other organisations and a couple of people from outside the industry."

Those members include:

Working Group 1 - Processor involvement

  • Group Lead, Grant Crothers - President, Australian Dairy Products Federation; Executive Director, Burra Foods
  • James Downey - Director, Bulla Dairy Foods
  • Tony Girgis - Managing Director and CEO, Brownes Dairy
  • Janine Waller - Executive Director, Australian Dairy Products Federation
  • John Williams - General Manager, Sales, Saputo Dairy Australia

Working Group 2 - Governance

  • Group Lead, Bruce Donnison - Director, Australian Dairy Farmers
  • David Inall - Chief Executive Officer, Australian Dairy Farmers
  • Roseanne Healy - Director, Dairy Australia
  • David Nation - Managing Director, Dairy Australia
  • Victoria Taylor - Independent Director, Australian Dairy Farmers
  • Janine Waller - Executive Director, Australian Dairy Products Federation

Working Group 3 - Representation

  • Group Lead, Jeff Odgers - Director, Dairy Australia
  • David Inall - Chief Executive Officer, Australian Dairy Farmers
  • Simone Jolliffe - Former Director and President, Australian Dairy Farmers
  • David Nation - Managing Director, Dairy Australia
  • John Versteden - Director, Australian Dairy Farmers

Of all the members, only Simone Jolliffe, Jeff Odgers and John Versteden are dairy farmers, although former processing sector executive Bruce Donnison has farm investments.

Former Meat & Livestock Australia managing director David Palmer is acting as engagement lead for the reform process.

Mr Palmer said it was likely that dairy businesses - farmers and processors - would be offered one model to vote for or against.

"My strong advice is that when you go to the vote, you take one preferred option that has been thoroughly canvassed, thoroughly consulted, and that all people intending to vote, completely understand the history, the background, the reasons, the arguments for and against, and they can vote, equipped with all that facts and knowledge," he said.

After his discussions with the state dairy organisations and Dairy Australia's regional arms, Mr Palmer said, that model would likely be one which included processors with farmers in the advocacy body.

"In all my conversations, by far and away the majority view is for the inclusion of processors," he said.

"I know that there are some in strident opposition to that, but by far the majority view is for processor inclusion on the basis that they make an equitable contribution to their inclusion."

It was not yet known whether it would be one farm, one vote, Mr Palmer said.

If processors - unanimously or almost unanimously - agreed they wanted to be involved, they would likely have a separate levy and have a form of "processor college" vote.

The steering committee had been consulting with state dairy organisations and regional dairy bodies, Mr Palmer said, but would find a way to communicate with grassroots farmers, perhaps via online conferencing technology, though it was too soon to say when that might happen.

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