Dairy advocate steps up to new role

By Dairy News

COHUNA DAIRY farmer John Keely has taken on the role of interim vice president of the UDV.

Mr Keely has a long history in advocacy after serving on the UDV policy council for the past 10 years, and he is excited about the possibilities his new role will bring.

While Mr Keely said he had no desire to become involved in mainstream politics, he felt it was important to have people fighting for the dairy industry.

“Dairy is a big industry and Victoria is the biggest milk producer in Australia. If we don’t have anyone in there fighting for us, we are in trouble,” he said.

“The UDV is only a phone call away from the premier, and we do have the opportunity to influence the decision-makers and be part of that process.”

Mr Keely believes the UDV has an important role to play.

“If we don’t have a peak body, then it becomes left to small, different groups to do the fighting; and only the loudest voice will be heard,” he said.

“In the UDV we have a broad range of opinions across different issues but we are always collectively working for the best outcome for the industry, and we always represent our members first and foremost.”

Mr Keely said former Agriculture Minister Jaala Paulford called in to the UDV Christmas gathering.

“This just shows the respect the UDV has within government, and in particular the respect people have for retiring president Adam Jenkins,” Mr Keely said.

His 21-year-old son Harrison works on the family farm and Mr Keely is also determined to see a future for Harrison.

“I am lucky that I am in a situation where I can get involved. I have a good staff at home and because I am financially invested in the industry myself, I certainly want a sustainable future.”

The Keely family milks 310 split calving cows on 420 ha just outside of Cohuna.

They are currently in the process of drying off their autumn calvers.

Mr Keely described the 2018–19 season as fair so far.

“Even though we had a dry winter, the cows have milked well and remained in pretty good condition. The big thing will be what happens to production after Christmas.”

Mr Keely said setting up the farm for a good autumn was his first priority.

“You have to get water onto those pastures in autumn to set yourself up for winter and spring. We can’t rely on rainfall, so it is important to have a plan to move forward.”

Mr Keely said he would sow cereals and rye- grass clovers this autumn.