Across the wide array of Dairy Australia programs, the dairy service levy is currently being invested in programs that support farm businesses to grow profitability, performance and sustainability as well as aiding state and national organisations to develop policies that shape the industry as a whole.
An increase of the dairy service levy will enable Dairy Australia to maximise the benefit of programs and services to better suit the needs of dairy farmers and the industry, with more personalised, modern and enhanced offerings across a wide range of key areas.
As we enter an age where dairy businesses are adapting to the changing climate, Dairy Australia is committed to walking on that journey with dairy farmers, providing tools and guidance in a changing environment to enable positive outcomes.
"Already, Dairy Australia has invested a lot of the levy in helping to build tools that enable farms to adapt, and also start to prepare farms to reduce their emissions footprint," Dairy Australia manager, innovation and technology Dr John Penry said.
"But there's more than we can do. With an increase in levy, there's an ability to do more work around adaptation for individual farms, there's more ability to do research which will give us a larger toolkit for reducing emissions on individual farms."
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While the changing climate can grow uncertainty in business, it can also provide opportunities.
An increased levy will give Dairy Australia "the ability to help to equip Australian dairy farms to start participating more actively in the carbon marketplace for carbon credits," Dr Penry said.
"The ability to use your farming practices to derive part of your income from the way the emissions trading scheme in Australia works."
One of the key investment areas for Dairy Australia is labour, which is one of the biggest challenges facing dairy farmers, further exacerbated by COVID-19.
More opportunities are available to address labour needs within the industry, such as partnerships with recruitment specialists and large-scale marketing campaigns.
Dairy Australia general manager of the farm team Greg Jarman thinks an increased levy will provide a larger and better-equipped workforce.
"This means additional investment in building partnerships with agricultural recruitment specialists in each region that have the ability to work with farm businesses to provide more direct access to people ready to work on your farm, as well as a large-scale recruitment campaign through channels such as television and radio that highlight the great opportunities available to work on dairy farms, and to bring people into the industry to recruit new staff," he said.
"We'll also focus on building new employment tools for farm businesses to make it easier to onboard new staff and help you retain talented staff for longer."
This highlights the ways Dairy Australia can help not only to support a larger workforce, but also support dairy farms in managing staff.
Dairy Australia has long held a keen interest in supporting dairy farmers at a localised level.
Through the eight Regional Development Boards and regional teams, Dairy Australia works to support farm business in line with priorities specific to their region.
Services such as discussion groups, focus farms and the flagship Our Farm, Our Plan program provide value to dairy farmers.
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In 2021, Dairy Australia was able to deliver more than 850 extension activities to more than 8250 people online or face-to-face, despite the complexities of COVID-19.
With further investment, Dairy Australia has an opportunity to strengthen these service offerings with regional services even more specific to individual farm business needs.
"Additional investments in this area would mean more people on the ground, with a key contact that you can call on directly to support your farm business needs," Dairy Australia general manager regional services Verity Ingham said.
"It will give you access to services that are more individualised and customised to what you need on your farm."
"It's the opportunity to take our quality regional services offering to the next level, with even more relevance to your farm business.
"It's your levy investment, directly in your region, with your local team."
While Dairy Australia can't directly invest in advocacy, it does play an important role in supporting advocacy efforts and informing the development of policies by industry organisations and governments.
This is done through investments in data capture, research, expert analysis and engaging with farmers to get their views on critical policy issues and how they affect farm businesses.
Additional investments in the policy development process will increase the support the levy can provide on critical national policy issues.
These include topics such as labour and water, improving dairy's access to international markets and positioning dairy in the best possible way within the climate change debate.
"We see opportunities on the regional and state level, where Dairy Australia could better support state dairy farming organisations with data and information to help address grassroots policy issues that do not make it to the national stage," Dairy Australia general manager, trade and industry strategy Charlie McElhone said.
"Dairy Australia is keen to work with the state dairy representative organisations to make sure we prioritise these investments where they can have the most impact," he said.
Dairy Poll 2022 is an opportunity for farmers to determine the future level of the dairy service levy.
This levy is reviewed at least every five years.
You are able to vote via dairypoll.com.au, or via the ballot paper sent by mail.
When you vote with your ballot paper, you can return it by email, fax or post.
The poll opened on February 24 and closes on March 31 at 11:59 pm, with results announced in April.
Make sure you are informed about what the voting options are and what they mean for your farm business, and have your say in the future of the industry.
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