When the dairy crisis hit, it was pretty clear to farmers that things needed to change, big time.
The decisions made by just a handful of people shattered the livelihoods of many farming families and trust along with it.
The time is right for change, too. The show of support from ordinary Australians during the crisis has won the attention of the regulators and politicians. All are looking to our industry for solutions.
It’s not easy to find sensible ideas that will work in the real world. Few people outside the dairy industry understand its quirks. At the same time, while Australian dairy farmers are known for being innovative, few of us have the time or knowledge of the processing sector to flesh something like this out.
With all this in mind, a handful of farmers came together to build a concept that we could hand over to the broader industry to consider, refine and make its own. We invited a few trusted industry people with specialist expertise to join the group, too. We wanted whatever we proposed to be something worthwhile, something that would stand up to scrutiny and that could really work for the entire supply chain.
We ended up with a group of about 10 volunteers. None of them was paid a cent, none work for processors and none are in a position to make their fortunes with the implementation of this concept.
All are simply sick and tired of seeing our industry in crisis and want to see it move forward.
But who are we, you ask? We decided to remain largely anonymous because:
- This is not our idea. It’s yours to use. We hope you’ll look at the concept and judge it purely on its merits.
- All of us have our own livelihoods on the line. Change isn’t always popular. We’re frankly not keen on being burnt at the stake or refused collection by a processor.
- The industry will need to take ownership of this idea. We’re thrilled that Dairy Connect has already endorsed the concept and that other dairy organisations are considering it, too. But most of all, grass roots support from farmers is what’s going to bring about change. If you’re unhappy with the status quo, it’s time to demand something different.
Of course, no concept could ever be the entire solution or suit everybody. But whatever your own circumstances, it’s worth looking at more closely. Why? Because farmers should have the right to choose.