Dairy farmers and state-based peak organisations for the industry have been waiting for the Dairy Plan to be released for months.
Due at the start of November, there has been no justifiable explanation for the ongoing lack of communication or why the draft was delayed. However, a short note provided last Thursday indicated that what was released on Friday was likely to be a far cry from what the industry wants.
A major piece missing from the release were recommendations from the Joint Transitional Team (JTT). The Dairy Plan Committee advised (without explanation) that the JTT report would now be released "shortly before Christmas". Tasked with evaluating the various transitional options to restructure and reform the way the dairy industry is run, these recommendations are without doubt the most fundamentally important part of the Dairy Plan.
Is it any wonder that dairy farmers have lost faith in the Dairy Plan? Is it any wonder that they had lost faith in our industry's organisations and their ability to do their jobs and protect, support and assist the Australian dairy industry?
One thing that is abundantly clear is that some industry organisations have driven the Dairy Plan to suit their own needs and agendas rather than the needs of the farmers.
If the various commentary on the Dairy Australia AGM is anything to go by, we will not be surprised if nothing of significance changes as a result of this hugely expensive and labour-intensive exercise.
Any part of the plan that does not focus on heavily restructuring the industry to focus on increasing profits and decreasing risks to farmers should be removed. We don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater; there has been enough of that in recent years. What we do want, however, is the plan to work at programs that can get our farmers a sustainable and fair farmgate price.
When you look at the various efforts over the past six months to improve the lot of Australian dairy farmers you have to wonder what some of our national organisation have been doing. Our state-based dairy advocacy organisations have managed to get rid of $1/L milk, have extensively lobbied state and federal politicians to help our industry and have got consumers on side to pay more for their dairy.
Is it then any wonder why dairy farmers are losing faith in both the current national structure and the Dairy Plan process as well?