Australia’s dairy farmers will have greater flexibility in determining their compulsory industry levies after legislative changes were passed by Parliament last week to simplify the dairy levy poll process.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the change was a positive and logical step forward for the industry.
The changes passed streamline the process to set dairy levies by removing the requirement for a dairy levy poll to be held every five years.
“These changes are expected to generate savings of up to $1 million every five years when dairyfarmers do not wish to change the rate of the levies paid," Mr Joyce said.
“These savings can be re-directed to gain the biggest possible bang for buck by investing in additional research and development activities, supporting industry innovation, productivity and improved profitability.
“This Bill was introduced to the Parliament at the request of Australia’s dairyfarmers.
“Australia’s dairy industry enjoys strong unity and leadership driving increased value of farm production and opening new export markets.”
Mr Joyce said the changes ensured the industry retained a strong democratic process for dairyfarmers to have their say in setting the dairy levy rate.
“Instead of a mandatory poll, every five years, an industry advisory committee will review whether there is a need to change the levy or conduct a poll," he said.
“If no change in the levy is recommended, there will not be a poll. However, a poll must be held if it is recommended there be a change in the levy, either up or down.
“The legislation also provides a mechanism to allow dairyfarmers to request a poll with the support of at least 15 per cent of levy votes."