Dairy Connect wants urgent dairy reform

While a majority of State-based dairy advocates strongly back an ACCC recommendation for a mandatory code of conduct for the dairy industry, the Australian Dairy Industry Council has turned its back on recommendations following an 18-month independent probe by the ACCC, according to a leading dairy advocate.

Dairy Connect Acting Farmers Group President Adrian Drury today described a proposed new Australian Dairy Industry Council ‘review’ – after a Government initiated 18-month Australian Competition and Consumer Commission review – as a ‘waste of time, resources and energy’.

“The voluntary industry code currently operating has been an abject failure. It has died and should be put to rest,” he said.

“If it was working, the industry would already have fair, balanced, plain English, milk supply agreements. It doesn’t.

“Many dairy farmers are at a crossroad. The decisions made in the next days, weeks and months will determine Australia’s dairy future. The industry cannot afford to let producers and the dairy industry down.

The Australian Dairy Industry Council represents the industry value chain through two constituent bodies, Australian Dairy Farmers (producers) and the Australian Dairy Products Federation (processors).

Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan said the representative bodies for dairy need to concentrate on the big picture and to move forward urgently with the important tasks such as rebuilding relationships and commercial processes within dairy.

“A majority of the constituent state dairy bodies making up ADF – other than UDV – support a mandatory code, so why do we need to fluff around into the future,” he said.

Shaughn Morgan quoted an ADIC media release last week as saying that, after its planned review, its producer arm, the ADF would convene forums to educate farmers on how the new ADIC recommendations would be implemented.

“Forums to ‘educate’ farmers on how recommendations would be implemented. It appears to be bureaucracy gone mad,” he said.

“The ACCC has delivered a comprehensive report into the Australian dairy industry and its eight recommendations are straight-forward and should be supported across the industry.

“A commitment to implement these recommendations needs to be made now to ensure the long-term sustainability of Australian dairy.

“The ACCC conducted a series of meetings with farmers, processors and other relevant bodies during the past months.”

“It then released an interim report late last year and sought further submissions before tabling its final report to the Federal Government earlier this year.”

The ACCC’s final report indicated that the Commission was of the view that a mandatory code of conduct was necessary for remedying the identified market failures in the dairy industry.

On page 165 of its final report, the ACCC stated: “The voluntary code will remain, by its very nature, an ineffective way to address problems…”

On page 166, the ACCC said: “The process of creating a mandatory code would involve extensive industry consultation, but government involvement in the development of a prescribed code would mitigate the imbalance between processor and farmer influence.”

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