SOUTH-west dairy farmers have told Australian Dairy Plan chair John Brumby that they want a stronger advocacy body that could involve restructuring United Dairyfarmers of Victoria.
Mr Brumby, who is leading the discussion for a national five-year industry plan, said farmers had questioned whether their advocacy options were "still fit for purpose in a world of many organisations" at a meeting in Cobden this week.
"We are looking very closely at that," he said.
UDV Wannon branch president Bruce Knowles said he told the meeting that UDV should become part of a new national organisation that could incorporate other bodies including Dairy Australia, the Gardiner Foundation and Australian Dairy Farmers.
"At the moment there is too many divided groups in dairy all trying to push their own agendas, and this is not being accepted well by our politicians," Mr Knowles said.
"We would still have the branches, but the policy issues would be networked transparently through new structures."
The UDV, an advocacy group for Victorian dairy farmers, is administrated by the Victorian Farmers Federation, but Mr Knowles said he believed this had potential to cause "conflicts of interest between commodities".
"My personal concern is that UDV is administrated by a cross commodity-organisation the VFF, and the dairy industry is missing out because of ineffective policy outcomes," Mr Knowles said.
He warned that the Australian Dairy Plan needed to be acted on, unlike a 2013 report called Horizon 2020, which he believed "collected dust".
"Advocacy restructure was highlighted in that, but unfortunately it sat on the self. The advocacy side wasn't acted on," Mr Knowles said.
Another key issue brought up at the meeting was farm costs and profits, but Dixie farmer Brad Collins said he had hoped the meeting would shed light for farmers on the key to success.
"A lot of the discussion was about things we couldn't change," Mr Collins said. "There's a lot of farms out there that do well, let's promote them and learn off them."
Mr Brumby said while many dairy farmers had found recent years difficult, there were "green shoots" and "positive stories" at the Cobden meeting.
"Everyone is united in wanting to find a clear way forward for a new dairy plan," he said.
He said four peak groups involved in the dairy plan would have workshops through July, followed by national workshops at the month's end. The plan is expected to be released later this year.
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