Plan maps out direction for SA dairy

Whole supply chain urged to help shape dairy future


Dairy
NEXT STEP: Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone, Golden North managing director Peter Adamo, Dairysafe CEO Geoff Raven and SADA president John Hunt welcomed the launch of an action plan for the state's dairy industry.

NEXT STEP: Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone, Golden North managing director Peter Adamo, Dairysafe CEO Geoff Raven and SADA president John Hunt welcomed the launch of an action plan for the state's dairy industry.

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The state's dairy industry has been urged to spread the message about what makes SA produce great, as it looks to grow and prosper.

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The state's dairy industry has been urged to spread the message about what makes SA produce great, as it looks to grow and prosper.

In the next five years the SA dairy industry will focus on its premium reputation, high animal welfare standards, improved communication throughout the supply chain and enhanced succession planning, according to an action plan devised to drive the local sector forward.

The South Australian Dairy Industry Action Plan, launched this week at a Fleurieu Peninsula dairy farm, was developed after 18 months of consultation with farmers, processors and other members of the supply chain.

SA Dairyfarmers' Association president John Hunt said the action plan would ensure the industry moved forward with a common goal to 2024.

He said the plan did not have "the answers", but instead would act as a "touchstone" for what SA's dairy industry should look like in the future.

"We in SA are unique and we know we've got something pretty pristine," he said.

"We can't compete in the commodity market, so we've got to find something different to sell ourselves."

Mr Hunt said the plan took nearly two years to develop as SADA wanted all those involved in dairy to have their say about what they saw as the industry's future.

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He said there were several opportunities identified, particularly in seeking out niche markets.

"We have to sell what we've got, which is a pristine environment with biosecurity second-to-none," he said.

"We need to find people willing to pay for that traceability.

"We can't compete with a $6 a kilogram cheese, so we've got to attract people who want a quality product."

Mr Hunt said this needed the full support of everyone along the supply chain, working together.

"We've got to sell our milk better and, as farmers, take ownership of that," he said.

"If the processors and farmers come onboard, together we can make it happen, but we do need continued input."

Despite moving away from the commodity market, the plan still promotes the opportunities in export destinations.

It states that SA, or other Australian products, could not compete with local markets in Asia and South East Asia on cost but its reputation could overcome some of the cost differentials.

The plan also highlights potential efficiencies in the post-gate supply chain, such as consistent supply, milk transport and consumer input.

Mr Hunt said the action plan was predominantly focused on what could be done post-farmgate.

"We weren't talking about what do on-farm, as there is already lots of research and development and data on that," he said.

He said the key was to build on a reputation based on these on-farm actions, such as the clean and green environment and happy cows with high animal welfare standards.

"We all know where we are, but this is something to help us get out of bed at 4am," he said.

We have to sell what we've got, which is a pristine environment with biosecurity second-to-none. - JOHN HUNT

Mr Hunt said the industry also needed something to help boost confidence after a difficult few years, and encourage younger people to be a part of the sector's future.

The average age of dairyfarmers in SA is 56 years old.

Mr Hunt said there was some positive news already in place.

"Demand is growing, supply is decreasing, we need to take hold of these opportunities," he said.

The plan's development was funded by SADA, which is in talks with industry partners about how to move it forward.

Processor Peter Adamo said the plan was a "great initiative" for promoting SA dairy products.

"SA has got good recognition for producing the best quality," he said. "We need a strategic direction to take us to next stage."

The Golden North managing director believes the state's dairyfarmers and manufacturers need to work together in coming years to build the industry.

He said processors would have their own five-year plans, but would need to work with the producers of the milk to meet projections.

"When milk production is down, it impacts on the growth plans of processors," he said.

"If industry comes together, and farmers plan on growing the milk produced, it benefits all SA processors in the long-term."

Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone said the plan was a "call to action for an industry that has copped some tough times".

He said the industry was worth $500 million to the state in 2017-18.

"This action plan will help us progress, grow and value-add more products," he said.

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