Dairy Connect in 2018 – an industry force to be reckoned with…

Industry advocacy group Dairy Connect is finishing 2017 with a solid record of achievements across a number of areas vital to the future viability and sustainability of the dairy industry.

CEO Shaughn Morgan said today 2018 would bring with it on-going challenges as the industry continued the process of restructuring and renewal.

“Dairy Connect is preparing a formal response to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s interim report following its 12 months plus review of the dairy industry in late November,” he said.

“Key areas for focus next year will be working for the abolition of unsigned short-form contracts between dairy processors and dairy farmers and addressing future water reform for dairy irrigators.

“ACCC agriculture commissioner Mick Keogh found that, unlike others in the dairy supply chain, producers enjoyed no real bargaining power and limited scope to rearrange their businesses to improve their market position.

“The commissioner described short form standardised processor contracts as being responsible for imbalances that reduced competition for milk and piled all the market risk back on to farm suppliers.”

Dairy Connect had also led the push in 2017 to raise awareness that plant-derived drinks should not be marketed as ‘milks’, according to Shaughn.

“Our media on this issue has made headlines throughout Australia and has won industry news coverage in the United States and Europe,” he said.

“In the USA, the National Milk Producers’ Federation characterises such labeling as a misappropriation of ‘traditional dairy terms’ and says that ‘food labels should clearly and accurately identify the true nature of the food to the consumer’.”

Nutritionists know that milk generally contains higher levels of protein and a wider range of vitamins and minerals then plant-based liquids.

Children need sufficient protein and energy for normal growth and development.

If liquids like almond or rice extracts are a regular part of a young child’s diet, other food sources of protein and energy are needed to replace those otherwise provided by milk.

As we enter 2018, the industry needs to find ways in which to unite to ensure the continued growth of the dairy industry throughout Australia. To do this, common positions need to be found and by being unified, we can fulfil each of our organisational charters to represent the dairy industry and thus ensure continued growth, transparency and restoration of trust.

“We will work with key strategic partners and stakeholders to assist in continuing to highlight the need to find fundamental change, highlighting the opportunities for future growth with an united dairy industry underpinning these changes.  We will learn from the past mistakes to ensure that future choices are based on sound strategic decisions,” he said.

On behalf of the Chairman of Dairy Connect, George Davey AM; the President of the Farmers Group, Graham Forbes, and the members of the Board, we wish you a most happy festive season and may 2018 bring prosperity for all.

Ashley Rootsey