The landmark merger of cross state dairy advocacy groups marks the beginning of a new era in industrial representation and advocacy for east Australian producers, from the lower border of NSW to the tip of Queensland.
Members of the Queensland Dairyfarmers' Organisation (QDO) who attended their EGM on November 3 and those QDO members who voted by proxy, supported the establishment of a new fresh milk body to be called 'eastAUSmilk' by a 92 per cent majority in favour of constitutional change, which will also facilitate the merger with NSW based Dairy Connect Farmers Group.
A newly revised constitution will enable the creation of two district councils within NSW from which two representatives will be appointed to the interim board of eastAUSmilk, according to Dairy Connect Farmers' Group president Graham Forbes.
"This is a historic result which is a positive and collaborative step towards uniting dairy farmers in NSW and Queensland under the banner of eastAUSmilk," Mr Forbes said.
"This is an exciting time for dairy farmers in NSW and Queensland, with eastAUSmilk developing policies to help stop the decline of dairy farms in our two states.
"It is strongly believed that a united organisation will strengthen the advocacy and improve the delivery of current and new services over the coming months and years."
Graham Forbes will represent northern NSW (the North Coast, Mid North Coast and Northern NSW inland); with Farmers Group vice president, Ruth Kydd representing southern NSW (the South Coast, NSW Sydney Basin and inland NSW).
The other members of the six-person interim board, representing three Queensland regions, one cross-border region as well as the two NSW regions, will include Matt Trace, Gary Wenzel and James Geraghty.
The members of the interim Board will hold office for 12 months until elections are held late in 2022.
"There was great strength in industrial unity and that the merged dairy organisation would have an enhanced capacity to represent producers in dealing with dairy processors and governments at all levels," QDO vice president Matt Trace said.
Independent chair of Dairy Connect, George Davey AM, said the outcome demonstrated the strong collaboration between the boards of Dairy Connect and QDO to achieve a positive outcome which would encourage stronger and united leadership for fresh milk producers.
QDO president Brian Tessmann, who will be stepping down with the formation of eastAUSmilk, was a pivotal part of the merger of the two dairy organisations.
Brian described the merger as historic which was a positive and collaborative step towards uniting dairy farmers.
"It is no longer 'us' and 'them', it is no longer 'Queensland' and 'NSW' dairy farmers, it is now dairy farmers from fresh milk regions working together towards progressive and practical outcomes on behalf of the dairy industry," he said.
Although Brian did joke that this may not be the case during the NRL State of Origin, but he said we can learn to live with that friendly fire.
It is intended that eastAUSmilk will commence on December 1 and the transition process into the merged organisation will commence immediately.
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