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Leo vies for board spot

Dairy passion: Leo Argento has nominated for the board of Murray Goulburn this year and is keen to ensure the future of the dairy co-operative.

THE Murray Goulburn Gippsland director elections opened on September 17, in which several South Gippsland farmers are vying for board positions.

One candidate, Leo Argento from Wooreen said the dairy industry is very important, both to the local community and to the Australian economy, but he is concerned about its future.

It is Mr Argento’s first time running for the MG board position.

“I thrive on challenges and hard work. I can see small issues can make a big difference to suppliers and the industry,” he said.

Mr Argento is one of seven people nominated for a board position and if elected, will represent not only the Gippsland region, but all of Murray Goulburn’s suppliers.

One of Mr Argento’s key concerns is farmer profitability and sustainability.

“Gippsland suppliers are some of the lowest paid in the state, which was confirmed by the recently released Dairy Australia farm monitor survey,” he said.

“There are variables I can’t change, but if I were elected to the board I could have an influence on how suppliers get paid.

“For example, at the moment spring milk is discounted by as much as 10 cents per litre on some farms.

“This is done to help fund the autumn and winter milk price and to encourage flat milk supply. When producers pay suppliers to encourage a flat milk supply, it shrinks the industry.

“When a farmer changes calving patterns to suit milk price, rather than to suit his farm, it decreases total production and more importantly, increases workload.

“This may not be such an issue on large farms, but for new people entering the industry, it is critical for them to run their farm for maximum production, rather than price.

“My main focus is on making farmers profitable and removing this discount can help.”

“There have been several contributing factors towards the lack of growth in Victoria’s dairy industry, such as extreme weather conditions, but we cannot rule out the current pay structure.

Mr Argento said a fair and equitable pricing system will help a lot of existing farmers increase their profitability and importantly will help new farmers enter the industry, which is crucial.

“Currently, the difference between Murray Goulburn’s highest paid supplier and their lowest paid can be as high as 30 per cent,” he said.

“As a shareholder, every supplier should have the right to be treated the same as every other supplier.

“It is important that Murray Goulburn maintains its strong principles so no one supplier is favoured.”

Mr Argento said it is integral the co-operative operates as efficiently as it can and it is essential for the suppliers to be aware of Murray Goulburn’s efficiencies.

“I will push for a more in-depth analysis of costs to be explained to the suppliers. It is important they are aware of Murray Goulburn’s efficiencies.

“I would also like to see a dairy industry-based advertising campaign, focused in the farmgate and the dairy industry as a lifestyle.

“It is important to promote the ability of the industry to grow and its community focus to try and entice new people to become a dairy farmer.

“The board of directors provides a voice for the suppliers. We own the company; we elect directors to act in our best interests to guarantee our sustainability and profitability not just now, but into the future.

“Unfortunately, voting is not mandatory, but I would like to encourage those who do not normally vote to have their say. It is their livelihoods and future at stake.”

Voting for board positions closes at 5pm on October 4.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=5005

Posted by on Sep 25 2012. Filed under 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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