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Dairy Australia faces levy battle

Support us, please: representing Dairy Australia were local ADF board member Max Jelbart, Murray Goulburn’s Phil Tracy, managing director of Dairy Australia Ian Halliday, chairman of Dairy Australia Max Roberts and GippsDairy chairman John Versteden.

AN unimpressed group of dairy farmers turned out for Victoria’s first session of Dairy Australia’s Levy Poll forums at the Leongatha RSL on Wednesday.
The group of around 15 farmers was visibly upset with the governing body, arguing for more choice in the levy poll.
Dairy Australia is now offering either a 10 or 15 per cent increase, with the opportunity to vote to scrap the organisation altogether.
A few farmers have already hinted that will be the way they will go. One such person is Bernard Lubitz from Leongatha North.
“You (Dairy Australia) have engineered the outcome. Why can’t we start with an option of paying the same and go from there?” he said.
“The industry leaders are basically saying to us this is what you have to do. We’ve got an outcome that is basically blackmail.
“It’s the farmers that pay for the levy, so they’re not inclined to be supportive.”
All of Dairy Australia’s hotshots were on hand to attempt to drum up enthusiasm from the crowd, but they remained skeptical.
“In the 30 years I’ve been involved, you haven’t achieved a real lot. Our returns are pathetic compared to all those years ago,” Noel Campbell said.
“People have no support in you because we are being treated like dirt. We pay the levy, we do the work, and we’re entitled to better returns.”
GippsDairy chairman John Versteden, who was on the levy poll committee, was quick to point out that 10 per cent was “not even staying the same.”
“The option of staying the same will diminish Dairy Australia’s ability to service the industry,” he said.
“The 10 per cent option is still halving reserves over five years and reduces Dairy Australia’s ability to tackle big issues such as climate change and the carbon tax.”
Before the crowd was involved and the discussion process took place, five speakers were given the opportunity of presenting Dairy Australia’s case.
They were the “hot shots” of the organisation, local ADF board member Max Jelbart, chairman of Dairy Australia Max Roberts, managing director of DA Ian Halliday, chairman of Murray Goulburn Phil Tracy and Mr Versteden.
Mr Roberts spoke about the future of the program, and discussed the importance of a governing body moving forward.
“We have plenty of big issues to tackle in the future, issues that the milk companies simply cannot tackle on their own,” he said.
Mr Roberts noted things such as sustainability, animal welfare, carbon issues and climate change as
problems.
He also noted problems in the past Dairy Australia had solved, such as live cattle export issues, dairy-related obesity arguments and the melamine disaster that hit China about five years ago.
“Murray Goulburn, Fonterra, whoever. No one could tackle these issues without the help of Dairy Australia,” he said.
“I respect anyone’s informed decision, even if they do vote, give a 0 vote. But I don’t want anyone doing it for the wrong reasons, or without being informed.”
“A 0 vote would mean no Dairy Australia within 12-15 months. Please think about it, Dairy Australia has huge benefits to the industry.”

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=2914

Posted by on Feb 15 2012. Filed under Featured, Rural News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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