Everything is on the table in the Australian Dairy Plan, including dismantling industry organisations such as Dairy Australia, the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria annual conference was told.
Australian Dairy Farmers president Terry Richardson and Dairy Australia chair Jeff Odgers told the conference last Friday they wanted all farmers to have a say in setting the plan for the next five years.
"There is one point I want to make today is that we are laying everything on the table," Mr Richardson said.
"We want to hear from you and we want to hear what we must do differently."
Both also said they wanted groups outside of the current industry structure, such as Farmer Power and Dairy Connect, involved in the process.
Mr Odgers took the opportunity to answer questions raised about Dairy Australia in recent media reports.
He defended the payment of bonuses to former managing director Ian Halliday, saying that these were no secret and were clearly shown in Dairy Australia's annual report released last year.
"These were set by the board back in 2014-15 and based around achieving targets around annual operating plans, investment milestones and multi-year programs," he said.
"Ian added significant value during his tenure."
He also defended Dairy Australia's decision to wind down its reserves, its project assessment process and the level of staff morale.
"Contrary to media reporting, a recent staff survey has showed high levels of staff satisfaction and engagement," he said.
Under questioning from the floor, Mr Odgers said if the industry decided to dismantle Dairy Australia as part of the Dairy Plan, Federal Government levy-matching funding would cease and that would be "pretty catastrophic".
He said this funding enabled Dairy Australia to leverage dollars from other sources, citing DairyBio, Datagene and Dairy Feedbase as examples, with $125 million invested for the next five years.
Mr Richardson defended the appointment of former Victorian premier John Brumby as the independent chair of the Dairy Plan, which will set a five-year path to sustainability.
Mr Brumby's appointment had been criticised earlier in the day by a farmer involved in the Plug the Pipe campaign that had opposed Mr Brumby's government's construction of the North-South Pipeline a decade ago.
"I believe John is the right person to lead us through the Dairy Plan process," Mr Richardson said. "He has immense experience in public life, industry and not-for-profit sector and a strong track record of service at all levels of the community."
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