Farm Guide VIC : 2014-15
14 VictorianFarmersFederation Pig Group High profile consumer awareness campaigns targeting supermarkets, active lobbying alongside government on critical biosecurity issues and an ongoing focus on animal welfare saw increased visibility of the VFF’s Pig Group in 2013-14. At the time of publication more than 60% of Victorian farmers had converted to sow-stall free housing, putting us on track to meet the industry’s voluntary commitment to phase out sow stalls by 2017. This initiative is underpinned by a robust and transparent national Quality Assurance program that has been embraced by pig farmers and proves animal welfare is our top priority. Foreign imports and the consumer’s right to choose where their food comes from remain a key challenge for the Pig Group. In November 2013 our successful media and twitter campaign #TellUsWhy asked consumers to challenge Coles supermarkets and #TellUsWhy they’re using imported pork in their Coles Brand bacon and hams. The viral campaign sparked much media attention and increased consumer awareness on labelling and foreign imports. Australian pig producers remain incensed by Coles supermarkets double standards in regard to setting animal welfare standards for local pork products that are not enforced on imports. The VFF is demanding the Federal Government takes further action on clearer and fairer product labelling. The year ahead will see the VFF Pig and Livestock Groups working on a strategy to engage the support of DEPI, free-range pig producers, stock-feed suppliers and food service industry training providers on the risks of swill feeding pigs to the Australian livestock industry. United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) Improved seasonal conditions and stronger farm gate prices are providing a favourable trading environment for Victoria’s dairy farmers. This is providing welcome relief from the stresses of last year. UDV Policy Council has maintained a strong focus on active dairy farmer representation with our lobbying and advocacy activities. At the state level the changes to the former DPI are concerning. There appears to be fewer government resources allocated, and those that are allocated are conditional on farmer levy contributions matching the state spend. In the dairy sector we have watched numerous senior staff with specialist and technical expertise leave the department. The UDV has concerns that the merging of DPI and DSE, and the subsequent establishment of a regional management structure, has been detrimental to service delivery. These issues have been raised with DEPI senior management and the Agriculture Minister. The dairy industry is questioning a government strategy that has resulted in fewer, less experienced, and often part-time staff. The Minister’s goal of doubling production by 2030 will not be achieved with less resources. At the national level, the dairy industry has seen Free Trade Agreements with South Korea and Japan come-and-go without meaningful change. Australian dairy farmers paid about $116m in tariffs to Japan on product valued at $ 511m last year. The new agreement with Japan may make a difference of just a few million dollars. The main game for dairy is China. The UDV will be active in highlighting the need for Australian dairy product to trade in China on New Zealand tariff equivalent terms. At the moment we pay tariffs of between 10 and 15 per cent whilst our biggest competitors pay almost nothing. UDV’s focus on milk price structures and their role as an inhibitor to farm profitability and industry growth has been noted. Fonterra recently announced a revised and simplified farm gate milk price package for their suppliers. The UDV Milk Price Structure Discussion document will continue to highlight the industry need for change in this area. UDV led the call for a full review of the Bovine Johne’s Disease (BJD) Test & Control Program (TCP3) to ensure that the industry is getting value from this significant investment. The UDV is also active in supporting an electronic trial of the National Vendor Declaration process as a possible substitute for the current paper based system. The UDV has also been very active in developing an immigration pathway for the hundreds of New Zealand dairy farmers that migrated here in the past decade or so and have been unable to secure residency and citizenship status. The UDV provides an important voice on behalf of Victoria’s dairy farmers. We are committed to build on our strengths to improve into the future.