It doesn't seem that long ago that we had farewelled David Littleproud from his role as the Agricultural Minister but last week, he was reappointed after the resignation of Senator Bridget McKenzie from the position.
When Mr Littleproud was reassigned to the water portfolio after the cabinet reshuffle last year, we were disappointed to lose our Queensland connection. But to give Senator McKenzie her due, we have been pleased with the work that has done over the past seven months.
Senator McKenzie has been a strong advocate for dairy farmers through her work on the Code of Conduct and her scrutiny and inquiry into the RDC system, with focus on Dairy Australia. Her commitment to a "fair go" for the individual farmer and for the organisations working hard to look after their interests has been impressive. We sincerely thank her for her work and wish her well.
We need to keep the momentum going. Mr Littleproud's biggest priority to the industry right now needs to be to help put pressure on retailers and processors to pay farmers a sustainable and fair farmgate price. QDO is soon to release the Fair Go Dairy logo scheme as a pilot in Queensland and we are in talks with the other state bodies so that it is likely to be launched in NSW by mid-year. Federal assistance to ensure that we can market this program to all consumers across Australia will be vital to its success.
Key decisions being made around the future organisational structure of the national dairy industry will also need assistance from the federal government to ensure that the needs of farmers remain the highest priority in the process of transformational change.
The Code of Conduct in its infancy and we expect we'll see some areas challenged by processors trying to use the initial confusion of rights and obligations to their advantage. Given the minister's previous experience in the role and his appreciation that time is of the essence for the future of the dairy industry, we hope for a smooth and speedy transition.