Calls for a new not-for-profit New South Wales-Queensland fresh milk association have been ignited by advocacy group Dairy Connect.
The organisation has floated the concept which would represent the entire value-chain including producers, processors, distributors, vendors and consumers.
The concept had its genesis when the Dairy Industry Conference briefed the NSW Government about the industry’s desire in NSW to create a new state peak dairy representative body in 2011.
Dairy Connect farmers’ group president Graham Forbes – a producer from Barrington NSW – said there were special synergies between the fresh milk industries in New South Wales and Queensland.
“A single not-for-profit value chain organisation representing fresh milk production in the two states would ensure consistency in advocacy with government, stakeholders and other interest groups,” he said.
“There remains a dairy production dichotomy between northern states and those in the south.
“This particularly relates to Queensland and New South Wales which share much in common, including markets and farming systems and which largely produce fresh milk compared with more commodity-focused production in the south.
“The Australian Dairy Plan, which is out for further consultation nationally now, provides a unique opportunity for NSW and Queensland to look at forming a structure which reflects the best interests of the industry as a whole.”
While the dairy plan had a number of points in its favour, there were clear differences between fresh milk production and dairy product manufacturing across state borders according to Dairy Connect chief executive officer Shaughn Morgan.
“A New South Wales-Queensland fresh milk value-chain association would mean that pressing challenges could be addressed more effectively by those who have ‘skin in the game’,” he said.
“It is time that those dairy stakeholders who wish to be involved with an organisation specifically addressing the concerns of fresh milk producers act to establish a special platform and act urgently.
“Stakeholder organisations should reflect all parts of the industry as well as including research, development and extension to ensure consistency for dairy producers who need support in relation to fresh milk issues.”
Mr Morgan said there would be obstacles along the path, but nothing that could not be overcome.
“For instance, matters relating to the farmer levy can be discussed and a way forward developed to ensure RD&E that is specific to producers of fresh milk can be addressed,” he said.
“Dairy Connect is a unique value-chain organisation that has risen to be the premier advocacy group for the dairy industry on the eastern seaboard during the past four years.
“We recognise the importance of ensuring continuity and common practice between all players, ranging from the dairy producer, the processor through to the function of delivering fresh milk to retailers with consumers completing the chain.”
Discussions are expected to continue with state dairy organisations such as the NSW Farmers Association dairy committee and the Queensland Dairy Organisation.