Dairy levy to be put to a farmer vote

Dairy farmers to vote on Dairy Australia dairy service levy

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FALLING PRODUCTION: Falling milk production in Australia has seen Dairy Australia dip into reserves to fund programs as levy income has fallen.

FALLING PRODUCTION: Falling milk production in Australia has seen Dairy Australia dip into reserves to fund programs as levy income has fallen.

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Australian dairy farmers will have their say on the future level of the dairy service levy.

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Australian dairy farmers will have their say on the future level of the dairy service levy.

The Levy Poll Advisory Committee has recommended a poll be conducted in March next year of all dairy levy payers to determine the future level of the levy.

Australian Dairy Farmers has welcomed the move to call the poll.

"This is good news for dairy farmers," ADF president Terry Richardson said.

"They can now consider the current levy, or a potential increase, to ensure the investment in farmer research, development and extension meets their needs."

The dairy services levy is invested by Dairy Australia for research and innovation in a range of areas.

In total about $55-$60 million is invested each year, including 50 per cent from levy funds, 35pc from government and 14pc from external contributions/grants.

With falling milk production in recent years, levy reserves have been used to maintain program funding.

In late 2015, dairy levy payers voted to remove the compulsory requirement for Dairy Australia to convene a levy poll at least every five years.

Instead, a Levy Poll Advisory Committee would be convened to determine if a change to the levy should be recommended.

The committee comprises appointed dairy farmer and industry representatives, led by chair Ron Storey.

Mr Storey said the 15-member committee, 12 of whom are dairy farmers, unanimously backed the decision to hold a poll.

"It's time for the dairy farmers to vote on the levy," he said.

"The last levy poll was almost 10 years ago.

"A lot has changed during that time for farmers and the industry looks quite different.

"There are challenges, but there are also great opportunities.

"It's important that the Australian dairy industry has the right settings for future investment so that it can develop and realise its full potential.

"This poll puts that decision in the hands of those with most at stake, the dairy farmers."

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The committee will now develop the voting options to go on the ballot, including LPAC's recommended option, expected by September 2021.

The committee will continue seeking input and feedback from farmers in the coming weeks to determine the voting options, including a preferred option.

Mr Richardson said ADF had yet to form a view on the levy poll options that should be presented to farmers.

"As the voice of dairy farmers ADF is deeply committed to working with our members, LPAC, Dairy Australia and the broader levy payer farmer base to develop the voting options," Mr Richardson said.

"Now that it has been decided to activate a dairy levy poll a comprehensive process of analysis, consultation and scenario planning needs to be undertaken to develop the voting options.

"It is essential that this process delivers clear and concise feedback from farmers, recognising the need of LPAC and the Minister for Agriculture to recommend one clear option when the levy poll is held in March 2022."

Dairy farmer representatives on LPAC

  • Heath Cook, NSW.
  • Katrina Gofton, Tasmania.
  • Brendan Rae, South-West Victoria.
  • Matthew Trace, Queensland.
  • Andrew Aldridge, Tasmania.
  • Karrinjeet Singh-Mahil, South-West Victoria.
  • Andrew Cavill, South Australia.
  • Daryl Hoey, Gippsland, Victoria.
  • Peter Evans, Western Australia.

Industry body representatives on LPAC

  • Tania Luckin, Dairy Australia director and dairy farmer from south-west Victoria.
  • Roseanne Healy, Dairy Australia director.
  • Rick Gladigau, Australian Dairy Farmers director and dairy farmer from South Australia.
  • Victoria Taylor, Australian Dairy Farmers director.
  • Peter Mulcahy, Australian Dairy Products Federation representative. KyValley Dairy director and dairy farmer from northern Victoria.

To view LPAC's full report on the decision around moving to a levy poll and more on the Dairy Levy Review visit www.dairylevyreview.com.au.

The story Dairy levy to be put to a farmer vote first appeared on Farm Online.

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