Dairy industry culture: "Chance to seize the day and change" says Graham Forbes
The Weekly Times, 23/05/2018 - view article here.
The future of dairy is in our hands, although recent news makes me question this statement.
I have read, with great concern, the lack of national dairy leadership being demonstrated by those in elected positions. Why is this so?
There is no easy answer to this question, but rather many years of systemic institutional decay.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s report gives eight recommendations, all of which provide a platform to restore trust, integrity and transparency in the dairy industry.
I am not against industry advocacy bodies having a broad cross-section of membership. Processors play a vital role, ensuring milk is provided to consumers via retailers, but they need to also provide a fair farmgate price.
The farmgate price should be sufficient to pay their energy bills, provide food on the table, to ensure that their families live above the poverty line. Where has this gone wrong?
Addressing such issues has become blurred within our national peak bodies. Recognising openness and transparency are vital parts of any industry.
Decisions should be made on the basis of the best outcome for the whole industry, not merely components of it.
Dairy co-ops once ensured that the return was to its members, the dairy farmer. Companies have a different approach. They must ensure their shareholders have the best return/dividend for their investment. This is as it must be in a market society.
But where is the fairness when milk supply agreements are overly complex, lengthy and restrictive? Where processors will not engage with farmers collectively, preferring the old adage, “divide and conquer”.
The Australian dairy industry must have a mandatory code of conduct governing relationships between all stakeholders. Included in this code must be clear, simple and transparent supply contracts in which suppliers have the power to switch processors and to have access to independent dispute resolution.
Every person who sits in an elected or appointed dairy position must show that leadership and not let the opportunity that the ACCC has given the Aussie dairy industry pass by.
We owe it to the next generation of dairy farmers.