While the year ahead for both the QDO and Queensland dairy farmers looks challenging there are also some real positives with good potential in the not too distant future.
Last year, for instance, many were still saying $1 milk was here to stay. But QDO led the way, finally achieving after an eight-year battle, an end to this unsustainable price discounting. Key in achieving this was talking to consumers, who like our product and want it to be here long-term. Likewise, over the next 12 months QDO, along with our NSW counterparts, will need to lead on achieving at least $1.50 per litre for generic supermarket discount milk.
Clearly a more sustainable return needs to be achieved out of the domestic market, whether for fresh product such as liquid milk or for the great array of manufactured dairy products, particularly cheese.
Clearly, though, what happens in regard to the drought will be a critical issue in deciding how much milk we produce and how many dairy farms we retain over the coming year. But processors and retailers need to respond also. It will be critical that the new Federal Industry Code of Conduct is effective in delivering a fair outcome for the nation's and particularly Queensland dairy farmers.
There will also be some serious decisions to be made regarding process and outcomes of the National Dairy Plan. Dairy farmers spoke loudly in the farmer consultations that set up the beginning of the plan process that they want serious restructure creating one farmer-controlled organisation at the national level delivering both advocacy and industry services that state and regional organisations can work with to deliver greater outcomes at farm level.
It's going to be another busy year for QDO but we are charged up and ready to take on the challenges ahead.