Initiatives that underpin the future of NSW dairy – Dairy Connect

Dairy initiatives announced today by NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair are welcomed by Dairy Connect, in particular the announcement of a commitment to a ‘Fresh Milk & Dairy Advocate’, which will be underpinned by a Dairy Business Advisory Unit.

Minister Niall Blair said today that the Government’s first priority was to help farmers survive the drought and the financial stresses that have beset them over the past years.

President of the Dairy Connect Farmers Group, Graham Forbes, expressed support for the announcements today but indicated that the ‘devil will be in the detail’.

“Beyond the survival role for NSW dairy, the Minister said that a re-elected Coalition Government would move quickly to appoint a Fresh Milk and Dairy Advocate to lead a dedicated Dairy Business Advisory Unit within the DPI”, Graham Forbes said.

“Dairy Connect looks forward to working with the Fresh Milk and Dairy Advocate in the establishment of a ‘fresh milk crisis taskforce’ and identifying pro-active steps to ensure the NSW dairy industry survives into the future and that NSW remains a fresh milk State”, said Dairy Connect CEO, Shaughn Morgan.

Niall Blair said today the government would also work with industry to drive demand for NSW milk through a marketing campaign, as well as offer fully subsidised course fees for the NSW Dairy Farm Training Program.

Policy initiatives formulated by advocacy group Dairy Connect and presented to the NSW Government and Opposition were helping re-shape the future of the State’s dairy industry.

In the run-up to the March 23 election both sides had tabled their intention to boost the presence of dairy on the future Government radar including the appointment of a specialist dairy advocate and ‘marketing’ programs.

Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan said dairy industry stakeholders welcomed the announcements made this month.

“During the leaders’ debate this month, NSW Labor Leader Michael Daley confirmed his commitment to a Dairy and Fresh Food Pricing Advocate as well as mentioning representations by Dairy Connect”, Shaughn said.

“We take great professional pride in the fact that all sides of politics have acknowledged the value of our advocacy on behalf of dairy producers and the dairy industry generally”.

ABC Rural reported this month that dairy farmers had been exiting the Australian industry since a major downturn began in April 2016.

Drought, high electricity, grain and water prices had combined with low milk prices to force many farmers out of the industry and national milk production levels were shrinking.

Australia's milk production during the past financial year had dropped by the greatest volume since the millennium drought and the national herd size had fallen too.

Dairy Australia estimates more than 75,000 dairy cows were culled in 2018, up five per cent on the previous year.

National milk production is now forecast to fall by nine per cent this financial year.

The Committee Chair of the cross-party NSW Parliamentary Inquiry, Robert Brown MLC, stated in the December 2018 report that “It is now five minutes to midnight in the fight to save many New South Wales dairy farming businesses from collapse”,

Dairy Connect believes that it is now much closer to midnight.

“Urgent action needs to be taken to address the many issues confronting the NSW dairy industry so as to ensure its sustainability for future generations of dairy farmers and we look forward to working with the next NSW Government to assist in finding answers”, Shaughn concluded.