The start of this year marked a milestone for our industry.
For the first time in more than a decade, farmers were asked to vote in the 2022 Dairy Poll, which determines the level of future investment in our industry.
My conversations with farmers around the country over the past several months about the dairy poll and the best ways to invest the levy funds have highlighted the importance of making a real impact on farm profit through the use of the levy, and how we have to drive continual improvement across all that we do to keep this focus.
I'd like to thank all farmers and all people across our industry who have taken part in this important process by keeping informed, making their voices heard, advocating for our industry and casting their vote.
The results of the 2022 Dairy Poll, announced in April, determined that the levy will remain unchanged.
During this time, our industry will continue to face challenges and headwinds, for which we are preparing as an organisation and the industry as a whole.
We have already identified the most impactful level of investment in areas of critical importance to the industry - farm labour, regional services, and climate - as well as across the broader delivery of our services.
As we plan for the future, we will continue to value and appreciate every dollar of the levy, as well as research funding from the government and our research partners, and invest it to deliver the important services that individual farmers cannot do alone.
Read more: Dairy commodity prices flying high
These investments include research and innovation, supporting farm business management, responding to events such as drought, bushfires, floods or COVID-19, developing tools to adapt to the environment and address climate, supporting on-farm employment needs, marketing of dairy products and commitment to sustainability, policy research, industry insights, and delivering international market programs.
We will also continue working with processors around their contribution, particularly to our post-farmgate facing programs, including trade, health and nutrition, policy development, market information and insights, sustainability and marketing.
The past few months have been very challenging for flood-affected farmers in Queensland and NSW, and I am proud of the way our industry has come together to respond.
Our regional teams have been in contact with more than 200 affected farms to offer assistance and support.
We have also been working with other industry bodies, processors and emergency response organisations to provide immediate help on the ground and to help affected farmers access financial support on state and federal levels.
Meanwhile, the military conflict in Ukraine has been driving up the cost of inputs across the board and slowing down economic recovery from the pandemic.
Despite this, however, there is room for optimism. Dairy Australia's latest Situation and Outlook report says farmers can expect a profitable year ahead, with strong demand for milk and weak supply boosting commodity values.
The next issue of the report, due out at the end of May, will have the results of our annual farmer confidence survey.
I always look forward to its release and to sharing its findings with the broader industry.
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