Challenges yet opportunity - inquiry points to strong dairy future

Thursday 17 December 2009 | From Dairy Australia

Foundations for industry action that will ensure a robust and viable future for dairying in the Lower Murray-Darling Basin will be laid in Shepparton today.

Farmers, service providers and industry stakeholders will gather at the launch of a Dairy Australia report – Lower Murray-Darling Basin: the Facts, the Future. The report is a preliminary response to the Inquiry into Dairying in the Lower Murray-Darling Basin, a process of information collection, analysis, engagement and independent assessment with the community of the LMDB that took place throughout 2009.

“The broad inquiry process delivered all the information necessary for farmers, industry, other stakeholders and government to move forward positively and ensure a sustainable industry in the region,” said Mike Ginnivan, Dairy Australia Managing Director.

“Lower Murray-Darling Basin: the Facts, the Future sets a foundation for industry action and improved confidence, and opens the door for dialogue between industry and government.”

He said the report would inform policy making and the on-going strategies of all those with an interest in the Lower Murray-Darling Basin.

Dr Ginnivan said despite climate variability, the lowest ever recorded inflows, drastically reduced irrigation water allocations, emergent policies on water availability and increased farm debt, a number of dairy farms in the region have generated competitive rates of return over the past decade.

“However, water availability remains the primary risk faced by our industry. We’ll remain the major water user in the region over the coming decade and naturally there will be continued variation around average water availability. Having the capacity to manage this variation is critical to the industry’s future in the region.”

The report details that much of this capacity is best driven by improved certainty from water policy and advocates water market information that is accessible and transparent.

“Accurate and timely pricing information is important for efficient water market function, and allows dairy farmers to make better informed decisions about their water requirements and market participation.”

Jeff Odgers, Murray Dairy Chair and local farmer, said that in coping with the challenges of the past decade, the region’s farming systems - the bedrock of the supply chain - had necessarily become more complex and challenging.

“Farmers have had to up-skill in order to successfully manage price volatility and on-going limited water availability. As a result, farming systems are now more complex, but they are also more flexible and make risk manageable. Likewise, communities, farmers, government and business must continue to build on the good environmental practices they have already begun putting in place, and we’ve got to measure and document these achievements to ensure we continue to be a significant contributor to our region’s economy."

“The inquiry process has given us the information necessary to tackle the on-going challenges in our region, and the structural change occurring both pre and post farm gate.”

ENDS

For more information visit the Dairy Australia website – www.dairyaustralia.com.au  
Media inquiries: Adele Buhagiar, Dairy Australia, phone 0400 923 221, or Susan McNair, on behalf of Dairy Australia, phone 0439 389 202.