Better engagement needed

31 Mar, 2017 10:34 AM
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John Versteden says DART has been established for many reasons with the principal one being that engagement by dairy industry bodies with their members has “slowed”.
It’s about getting more engagement with farmers ...
John Versteden says DART has been established for many reasons with the principal one being that engagement by dairy industry bodies with their members has “slowed”.

The Dairy Advocacy Review Team (DART) has begun work to improve the engagement between dairy farmers and their representative bodies.

DART chairman and United Dairyfarmers of Victoria vice president John Versteden said criticism by farmer activist group Farmer Power that dairy industry advocacy groups were not delivering benefits to dairy farmers was only a small part of why DART was established.

Mr Versteden said DART had been established for many reasons with the principal one being that engagement by dairy industry bodies with their members had “slowed”.

“This (DART) is about refreshing that part of the industry,” he said.

“It’s about getting more engagement with farmers and key stakeholders and for the industry to be more united.”

Farmer Power had been included in DART’s consultations with key industry stakeholders but it was only a small group.

DART had so far met with about 60 key people from dairy organisations and hoped to hear from more people through its ongoing consultation process, he said.

Mr Versteden said people wanting to contribute their thoughts or learn more about DART could do so through the DART website at www.darteam.com.au.

DART had been nearly a year in the planning and became a reality with the support of the UDV, the UDV’s affiliated organisation, the Victorian Farmers Federation, and the national dairy body, Australian Dairy Farmers, he said.

It consists of a group of farmers headed by Mr Versteden with former Department of Primary Industries executive director Dr Clive Noble as executive officer.

UDV president Adam Jenkins welcomed the formation of the DART and encouraged dairy farmers to offer their support and share their views with the team.

Farmers now had the opportunity to say how they want to be advocated for in the future, he said.

Mr Versteden said he expected DART’s consultation process would take between two to three months to complete.

Its findings will be presented to the VFF and ADF boards.

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