The DFMC Board has recently decided to broaden DFMC’s Farm Loan scheme to include a new category for business productivity. Previously, the scheme only made loans available to farmers facing extreme climatic conditions – like a drought or a disaster such as a flood.
The new loan category has been named the Business Productivity Support loan and is to ensure farmers can take advantage of business opportunities to maximise the farm productivity by, for example, forward contracting or meeting payment terms for feed purchases. Typical loan approval turnaround times are very quick, and funds are made available to suppliers promptly.
Unlike the Climatic Conditions loans which have declared qualifying factors, the Business Productivity Support loans require suppliers to complete a Dairy Australia Cash Flow to demonstrate considered business decision making.
DFMC Regional Managers will assist with the completion of the Cash Flow and will ensure confidentiality. The Board will be advised that it has been completed to the RM’s satisfaction.
For Business Productivity Support loans, the maximum loan amount is either 50% of a member’s share capital in the Co-operative, or 50% of the average net monthly milk payment based on the previous twelve months (whichever is higher).
Director Bernice Lumsden was particularly keen to see the new loan category implemented. After previous seasons where feed costs have leapt up and traditional sources of hay or grain have been unreliable, being able to lock in volumes and prices is crucial in farm planning and management.
Former DFMC Chair, Duncan McInnes has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the Australia Day Honours this year. The medal recognises Australians who have demonstrated service worthy of particular recognition.
Duncan was recognised for his service to the dairy industry, agricultural show societies and the community.
He described receiving the award as a very humbling and proud moment. He thanked his wife, Mary, and daughters, Megan, Heather, Kirsten and Ruth for supporting him.
“They missed out on different things, family life and such, from the amount of time I put into dairy organisations,” he said. “It was a downside for them at times, but credit to them.”
Duncan, who has lived in Radford in the Scenic Rim region of south-east Queensland his whole life, runs 500 milking cows that produce around four million litres of milk a year.
Duncan’s community spirit and involvement started in his teenage years when he joined his local rural youth club at age 17.
“I’ve always worked,” he said. “I enjoyed helping out. It was probably a flow on from rural youth, that started off the community service side of things.”
In 1970 Duncan became a member of the Queensland Dairy Farmers’ Organisation and has spent the past 50 years serving the dairy community through various local, state and national industry organisations.
Duncan was Director of DFMC at its inception in 2004 until 2017 and Chairman from 2013 to 2017.
“The idea of the DFMC when it started was to look out for the farmers and make sure their voices are heard. And still today DFMC is representing its members, like in milk pricing negotiations.
“Looking after farmers is the name of the game. It’s important that all of their voices are heard.”
Duncan has been a Councillor in the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland since 2011. He is a member of several committees, and he is Chairman of the Dairy Cattle and Goat Committees.
“Some people in the dairy industry are doing it tough at the moment with the different conditions around Australia, but I believe they’ll get through it and live to fight another day. We been through some rough patches, and hopefully it’s a bit brighter moving forward.”
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The new mandatory Dairy Industry Code of Conduct (the Code) came into effect on January 1, 2020, based on the recommendations from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiry into the Australian dairy industry. The Code aims to improve the clarity and transparency of contracting and trading between dairy farmers and processors.
To aid in communicating and implementing the Code, the ACCC has established the Dairy Consultative Committee comprised of representatives from across the dairy industry.
DFMC is proud to have Tony Burnett on the committee representing both DFMC and its members, and dairy farmers more broadly.
Tony has been involved in the dairy industry almost all his life and has been the DFMC Regional Manager for NSW and Queensland for the past six years. So, when DFMC was looking for a representative to nominate to the committee, Tony was an obvious choice.
“I believe that we should all be involved in our industries,” Tony said. “Our industries don’t operate just by people doing their normal day-to-day jobs. We need people to get involved beyond the farm gate.”
Tony’s experience in contracts and his interest in developing competitive milk pricing models made him an ideal candidate.
Joining him on the committee is a mixture of representatives from other dairy farmer, interest and advocacy groups like the Australian Dairy Products Federation, Dairy Australia and Dairy Connect.
The committee first met in November 2019 and will meet quarterly over the next year.
“The idea of the consultative committee is to help the ACCC communicate to both farmers and milk processors what their obligations are under the Code,” said Tony.
Tony believes the Code will result in a lot more transparency for farmers and processors.
“A big change that farmers will see is that they’ll be operating in an environment where they have guaranteed minimum pricing for the terms of their agreement,” he said. “Personally, I think that there will be a lot more transparency, because all standard form agreements will be published publicly. So effectively, we will have a lot more transparency on pricing over time.”
Tony’s role on the committee is voluntary and has involved a lot of reading to become familiar with the Code so he can best represent the interests of DFMC members.
“Knowing the code inside out is a really important part of what DFMC does and what we will do into the future,” said Tony. “We act on behalf of farmers and have their best interests at heart. It’s the core of what we do.”
DFMC intends to hold a round of meetings this year to help explain and guide farmers through the changes introduced by the Code. For now, more information about the Code can be found on the ACCC website: https://www.accc.gov.au/business/industry-codes/dairy-code-of-conduct
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This bushfire season was like no other. It has ravaged our landscape and devastated communities. Our thoughts go out to members of our community who have been faced with the threat of fires and have had to make difficult choices. There are hundreds of stories of loss and hope out there, but here are just a few from members of the DFMC community.
Challenging conditions meant difficult decisions
The Abbeyard Bushfire near Mount Buffalo in north-eastern Victoria caused some stressful moments for Whorouly South suppliers John and Elise Pethybridge, and Tim and Caroline Walpole.
Burning for over two weeks the fire, which had already threatened dairy properties in the King River Valley, swept over the Mount Emu range, spitting embers to within three kilometres of the Pethybridges’ dairy.
Elise and the three children evacuated to nearby Wangaratta as unpredictable winds in the valleys and hills presented fire fighters with new fronts over several days.
John, together with many locals, supported the CFA and Parks Victoria firefighters with a fleet of utes equipped with slip on tanks.
“The bulldozers and strike teams did a terrific job containing the main blaze while we worked at putting out the spot fires caused by the embers,” John said. “It was our most significant fire event here in the last 30 years.”
Further down the road Kane Lamperd, who sharefarms Wild Dog Creek Dairies for Tim and Caroline Walpole, had taken the precaution of drying the herd off ten days earlier than planned as the fires approached from the southwest.
“We had seen from the Bega fires how tough it was for farmers with cows that needed milking after the fires had gone through, so it was a no-brainer really,” said Kane.
“Tim and I discussed it and, with things looking dicey, decided that not milking would give us more time to put towards protection if the fires got closer.”
Wild Dog Dairies experienced fire spotting in some of their paddocks, which they managed to control, and the fire front came within three kilometres of the property. Kane and Tim agreed that their decision to dry off their cows and focus on fire protection was a good one in the end.
Close call in Cudlee Creek
South Australian suppliers Col and Kath Juers also experienced extreme fire threat from the Cudlee Creek Fires before Christmas.
“I’ve been here 69 years, and this was the first direct threat from fire we’ve had on this farm,” Col said.
After decimating vineyards at the rear of the Juers’ picturesque Charleston farm, the fire burnt through 32 hectares of their back paddocks.
“Fortunately, we had already carted the hay from the back paddocks and there really wasn’t a lot to burn which helped us keep the fire away from the sheds and house,” Col said.
“We didn’t lose any stock – just boundary fencing mainly and, of course, some of our old shade trees, which is a real shame, but it could have been a lot worse.”
Keeping the area around the house irrigated and running their travelling irrigators during the blaze helped Col and Kath keep a check on potential ember attacks.
A fencing contractor, Col is in no hurry to replace the boundary fencing until the weather has cooled down a bit.
“It’s too hot at the moment and the ground’s too hard, I reckon we’re better off waiting until autumn.”
All twelve DFMC farms in the Adelaide Hills were affected by the fires, with many losing hay and silage but thankfully few stock losses.
Loads of support for fire-affected farmers
As bushfires ripped through the upper King Valley, Victoria, suppliers Justin and Brooke Evans experienced the smoke and haze in nearby Greta West. Like most farmers in north-eastern Victoria, they understood the threat posed to both property and livestock this summer from the severe weather conditions.
A camping trip with some contractor friends from Winchelsea on the Ovens River saw a plan hatched to organise loads of donated hay to those impacted by the fires.
Meanwhile, fire swept through upper northeastern Victoria areas like Cudgewa and Corryong where the Evans have many friends and relatives.
The plan was put into motion upon returning home and word quickly spread. Soon local farmers from a variety of enterprises were dropping off hay and straw at the Evans’ property, while Justin arranged transport to the fire-affected areas around Corryong.
Local transport operators were more than happy to lend a hand, and before long the Evans realised they were going to have a significant amount of fodder to deliver.
“We didn’t have to do much really once word got out that we were donating hay and a truck to take it up there,” Brooke said.
“People were turning up with a few bales on a trailer or half a truck load – it was just amazing really.”
More transport assistance and extra hay came from the Evans’ Winchelsea friends and eventually around 400 bales were loaded onto a dozen trucks and delivered to affected properties in the Cudgewa and Corryong areas.
Hay was delivered to six dairies and 12 beef operations.
“We took a loader up to help with unloading as some guys lost tractors,” said Justin. “It was really appreciated that they didn’t have to find a way of unloading as well.
“The gratitude we were shown from people who received fodder was amazing and made the effort worthwhile.”
But the Evans aren’t planning on stopping any time soon, according to Justin. “We are now planning a second run in mid-February and we think we will have as much, if not more, hay donated as the first trip – already we have eight trucks lined up.”
Loading hay to deliver to fire-affected farmers
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