Processors as well as farmers will vote on a dairy industry advocacy model.
In response to Stock & Land questions, an Australian Dairy Plan (ADP) spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday what many farmers had feared: the 'dairy businesses' eligible to vote would be, "a registered business in the dairy supply chain, including farms and processing companies".
There's no explanation of how many votes each will wield in a vote on the Joint Transition Team's (JTT) recommendation that farmer and processor advocacy bodies be rolled into a single organisation along with research, development and extension.
The spokesperson didn't say whether votes will be tied to production, when the vote will be held - other than "we hope that this can be arranged for around mid-year" - or even when decisions will be made about the process.
The JTT report was released a month ago but there's still no date for the close of submissions and it appears nobody has yet been appointed to handle them.
"The ADP committee is working to establish an engagement and design team that will lead the industry consultation process and review submissions," the spokesperson said.
Asked whether a vote for more than one model might be allowed, the ADP spokesperson said, "The engagement and design team will provide a recommendation to the ADP chairs on the best approach for a vote.".
"This will be informed by the industry consultation process to start shortly."
National farmer body Australian Dairy Farmers released a short statement that seemed to put it at odds with the ADP.
"The vote will include all farms that pay a levy," the ADF said.
"Arrangements for processors to decide on investing in a new industry organisation will be considered by the engagement and design team."
United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) president Paul Mumford said the statements highlighted "a lot of concerns and creates more questions" about the ADP and JTT.
Farmers were unsure whether processors "wholeheartedly embrace the JTT recommendation or if they want to continue with farmers to create a new-look industry".
"I would like to know their thoughts before we start talking about the industry vote and how this may work," Mr Mumford said.
"We need a whole lot more background and information around the next step."
READ MORE: Dairy Plan 'setting industry up to fail'
Farmer Power and UDV's Wannon branch released a joint statement: "We do not believe processors should have any vote or input into the process around the creation of an advocacy group on behalf of dairy farmers.".
"We believe advocacy on behalf of dairy farmers has to be totally separate from that of processors ...
"If there was a combined advocacy group, the mandatory code would not have happened."
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