DAIRY farmers will go head to head with one of Australian agriculture’s biggest and most outspoken critics - Animals Australia - at a public forum in Melbourne.
Animals Australia has been a driving force behind subversive, activist campaigns that have raised public funds to apply political and public pressure to try to terminate various Australian agricultural sectors, with traditional dairy farming practices currently within their strategic sights.
In a ‘fact sheet’ titled ‘What’s wrong with dairy?’, the animal rights group, in targeting the use of bobby calves, says contrary to popular belief, milk isn’t available on tap and a dairy cow needs to give birth in order to produce it.
“What happens to her newborn calf is perhaps the dairy industry's darkest secret - every year, (around 400,000) bobby calves are either sent to slaughter or are killed on farm in their first week of life so that milk can be harvested from their mothers for human consumption,” it says.
“Considered economically insignificant, male calves, and the females who are excess to the dairy industry's needs, are separated from their mothers on their first day of life.”
But now Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) CEO David Inall will share the stage with Animals Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes at the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria annual conference, to be held at the MCG on Friday.
It’s a move he says is aimed at enhancing engagement between the warring tribes.
Mr Inall will line up against Ms Oogjes on a panel discussion looking at the power of ‘everyday advocacy’ which he said would “surely spark debate” between participants and the audience of mainly Victorian dairy farmers.
“We’re very fortunate to belong to an industry full of passionate people with strong opinions who aren’t shy about sharing their views and ideas,” Mr Inall said.
“At ADF we are passionately committed to representing the interests of dairy farmers as well as the wider dairy industry.
“The more farmers who are actively involved in our process and structure, the more effective we will be in delivering powerful and meaningful outcomes for farmers.
“I’m certain that the panel members will communicate wildly different ideas and this is a forum to listen to each other and learn from each other’s experiences.”
The panel session will also feature former Australian Bankers’ Association chief executive Steven Munchenberg, Minds at Work founder Jason Clarke and Gippsland dairy farmer Paul Mumford.
Mr Inall – who recently returned from time working in the US egg industry to take up his role at the ADF - said it was a perfect opportunity to assist advocates across the spectrum and find out how they connect with a rapidly evolving and sophisticated audience.
“We have seen a dramatic shift over the last 15 years in how audiences receive information and it’s vital that we adapt so we can continue engaging,” he said.