Dairy farmers have voted in the 2022 Dairy Poll to leave the current levy investment unchanged. The independent Levy Poll Advisory Committee recommended a 20% increase and determined four voting options for the poll. The majority of farmers voted for ‘no change’, meaning the levy will remain at 4.7c/kgMS. Dairy Australia chair James Mann thanked farmers for being part of the important process to determine the future investment in the industry. Dairy Australia managing director David Nation said 36% voted to lift the levy with support for key investment areas identified including labour, regional services, climate and policy development.
Meanwhile, federal agriculture minister David Littleproud has noted the dwindling number of Australian dairy farmers eligible to vote in the Dairy Poll, blaming supermarkets, unions, droughts and poor advocacy for the drop in numbers. While acknowledging that many had taken the opportunity offered by high land prices to leave the industry, supermarkets were to blame by “devaluing the industry”. According to dairy levy poll data the number of farms entitled to vote has fallen 13% from 2019/20 to 4,401. Littleproud argued that greater transparency was needed and pointed to the recently launched Australian Milk Price Initiative as an example, then said the next phase would be to strengthen laws surrounding supermarket negotiations with farmers. He also pointed to the fragmentation of advocacy that made it difficult to determine what the industry wants meaning action is delayed or not taken at all.