THE upcoming Australian federal election provides a great opportunity for the Australian dairy industry. We need policy settings that support our industry's economic recovery.
As such, at the Australian Dairy Farmers, we have been busy gearing up to make sure we advocate effectively for our members and all Australian dairy farmers throughout the election cycle.
Following consultation with our members, we have finalised the ADF 2022 Federal Election Policy Statement, and in it we seek to secure the recovery of the dairy industry by making people and the planet healthier.
Our sector can play a key role in supporting the government's COVID-19 recovery and regionalisation agendas, and its pledge to set the foundations for the agriculture sector to grow to $100 billion by 2030.
This election also provides a defining moment in the Australian dairy industry's ability to achieve our sustainability targets.
A date is yet to be set for the election, but we know it must be held before the end of May. Here is a summary of the policy settings sought by the ADF, as the peak body advocating for all dairy farmers nationally.
Objective 1: Improve nutritional health in Australia and abroad
Dairy foods are recognised and valued across the globe. They are rich in many essential vitamins and minerals, in particular calcium. When consumed as part of a balanced diet they provide people with strong bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
Yet despite these advantages there are significant deficits in dairy consumption across the world.
Misleading product labelling and marketing, trade barriers and supply chain constraints need to be addressed, to bridge the gap between optimal and actual nutritional health as prescribed by the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
ADF calls on politicians to consider how they can help resolve malnutrition in residential aged care by disseminating fractures research and prescribing minimum nutritional standards for food in aged care.
We also seek initiatives to restore truth in labelling for nutritional benefit, increase international trade and market access, maintain the live export breeder cattle trade, and make supply chains fair, transparent and competitive.
Objective 2: Grow jobs and liveability in the regions with planning and investment
During the COVID-19 pandemic, dairy has continued to operate due to its status as an essential service. However, maintaining supply has been challenged by a shortage of workers, housing, fertiliser, investment and regional services.
Many of these issues are long standing but have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
We want politicians to resolve dairy's workforce shortage and capability deficits. For example, ADF is asking whichever party forms government to provide $300 million for the National Agriculture Workforce Strategy and provide the National Farmers Federation with leadership responsibility for evaluating the Agriculture Visa pilot and finalising its design.
Objective 3: Increase sustainability and productivity through innovation and markets
The world is confronting many sustainability challenges. Climate change, natural disasters, native flora and fauna decline, and emerging pests and diseases require various mitigation and adaptation measures to be deployed on farms.
The Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework has been in place for almost a decade. It takes a whole-of-supply-chain approach to these challenges in the context of Australia's international obligations while continuing to improve farm productivity and profitability.
Last year's COP26 conference in Glasgow has cemented the importance of this initiative as a basis for co-investing with government in technology and other pathways to help dairy farmers in their role as environmental stewards.
We call on government to build resilience and responsiveness to climate change by investing in recommendations of the Dairy Industry Adaptation Pathways and Northeast Dairy Climate Futures projects.
The ADF calls for the implementation of the recommendations of the Productivity Commission's Murray-Darling Basin Plan: Five-year assessment and those that came out of the ACCC's inquiry into markets for tradeable water rights in the Murray Darling Basin.
Providing a second round of the Energy Efficient Communities Program - Dairy Farming Grants, and co-funding emission and waste reduction initiatives would help dairy farming operations reduce emissions while supporting productivity and profitability.
To increase the sustainability of our proud industry, we ask government to support natural capital markets and environmental stewardship, drive adoption of digital technologies on-farm, and improve measurement of dairy farm performance.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted to people outside of agriculture something that we have all known for a long time: government must maintain strong border controls and funding for biosecurity. ADF would like to see government achieve the Craik review funding target for the National Biosecurity Roadmap.
See the full election policy statement at https://australiandairyfarmers.com.au/policy-advisory-groups/election-platform/.
Article supplied by Australian Dairy Farmers