Australian Dairy Farmers push for agricultural focus in election

Australia’s peak lobby group for the dairy industry, Australian Dairy Farmers have compiled a wish list as the next federal election draws closer.

The lobby wants politicians to recognise the Australian dairy industries capacity to become a new economic powerhouse, and has suggested the finalisation of free trade agreements, a reduction in power bills and a mandatory code to conduct for supermarkets as key factors that would take the $13b industry to new heights, ABC Rural reports.

Australia’s capacity to cater to Asia’s increasing desire for dairy products has been well documented and offers a valuable opportunity to increase the sector’s export capacity which currently sits at $2.7b.

President of Australian Dairy Farmers, Noel Campbell says that a free trade agreement with China, similar to what New Zealand has in place, would enable the nation to become far more competitive.

The introduction of mandatory code of conduct for supermarkets is also high on the agenda.

A voluntary code of conduct which was designed to manage relationship between suppliers and the two supermarket giants, Coles and Woolworths, initially included the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) in negotiations.

However the group decided to drop out of talks in March this year sighting that a voluntary code would do little to protect farmers’ interests and instead called for the introduction of a mandatory code – which is an opinion that the Australian Dairy Farmers also hold.

In addition, Campbell says that easier access to foreign seasonal workers and travellers on holiday visas would also help producers increase production capacities.

"We are currently not deemed as a seasonal-type industry, (but it) certainly is in Victoria and Tasmania, where there's more seasonal calving," he said.

"The ability to get someone, the same person for three months, year on year, would be helpful."


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