In the last week in November two of our national dairy bodies conducted their Annual General Meetings in Melbourne. The first, on Thursday 29th, was the Australian Dairy Farmers which is the QDO’s national affiliated advocacy body. This meeting included the election of one board director which occurs in rotation each year. This year national president Terry Richardson was challenged by Victorian dairy farmer Darryl Hoey. Mr Richardson was re-elected for three years with a comfortable margin and went on to again be elected by the board and delegates as national president for the next 12 months.
On Friday morning the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) Industry breakfast was held at Flemington Racecourse where speakers including Earl Ratray focused on the future. A key point made by Earl and others was that while China is putting considerable effort into growing milk production their demand for milk is growing three times faster than production. Troublingly though, Australia is now a significant importer of dairy products including cheese and milk powder in a dramatic change from being a sizeable exporter. This was because of Australia’s falling milk production and lack of product for export. This was causing even high value overseas customers to consider Australia may be an unreliable supplier and was leading them to look to others including the EU.
Later on Friday 30th Dairy Australia held its AGM which saw the election of new directors including David Lord the past CEO of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter who is well known in Queensland from his previous time as Parmalat CEO. There were many questions both off the floor and on notice asked of chairman Geoff Odgers and new CEO David Nation. A key theme in these was where DA was focused in regard reducing Australia’s cost of production and improving farmers profitability while increasing market opportunities. There will be considerable focus over the coming year on how David, Geoff and the DA board address those issues.