Structural change is required.
1. DA seems focused on high productivity “ fill the factories” resulting in high levies for DA to spend. The focus should have been on highly profitable robust farm systems that are capable of withstanding the fluctuations in markets.
Start with Dairy Australia’s bureaucracy by focusing it on the farmers. Move it from South Melbourne to Shepparton, or Warragul. Save a stack on rent as well.
2. RD&E funding structure has railroaded by NRM and Universities. The requirement of boards to “ optimize value” has allowed vested groups to lever a disproportional amount of funding towards warm fuzzy research and environmental objectives. It is disgraceful that all the animal RDC’s have ignored chemical tools of productivity, as the Deptments of Agriculture withdrew. NZ has numerous inexpensive chemicals to grow water efficient, high quality fodder crops that are not available to our farmers. It is not the responsibility of multinational chemical companies to look after the interests of Australia’s dairy farmers. DA has started with some AGVET crossfunded work albeit too little and too late for many farmers in Northern Victoria. The Europeans have been using Metamitron in,Beets for over 30 years. This cheaper, more robust herbicide could have made the difference, growing 7t/megalitre, 12-14 Megajoule , salt loving beets for economical fodder. There are $7 / ha herbicides for 5t/ mega litre turnips that NZ has had for >20 yrs.
Partition off a significant percentage of R&D funding to productivity and profitability research, particularly chemicals as these have been sorely ignored.
Succession planning has been done to death. How about succession planning for our insecticides and fungicides. It is these that will avert disaster as insects and diseases adapt faster than our reactive breeding? programs.
3. Dairying is about efficiently growing high quality feed and converting it to wealth through the very efficient lactating system. Our farmers are far more likely to get that Agronomic information from agronomists and consultants, than from Deptments of Ag or Uni’s. It is important that the accrued tested knowledge is trapped and available. The ability of our industry to make incremental gains has been handicapped by a succession of short term funding projects. This knowledge should be known as good practice or at least rate the quality of advisers.
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