13 October 2023
The Australian dairy industry is transforming to ensure transparency of on-farm practices and supply chain transactions. Dairy farmers are acutely aware of the imperative to safeguard the industry's social licence and continue to prioritise animal welfare within their farming systems.
With long-term sustainability in mind, the Australian dairy sector has set a policy agenda to provide a united direction to address the requirements of surplus calves. Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) have recently developed a policy for the industry with the goal that there is a possibility for every calf to enter a valued market chain. The policy provides a long lead time for the industry to adapt and, with supporting resources from Dairy Australia, requests the industry to develop solutions to the problems farmers are facing in managing the issue of surplus calves.
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The policy outlines several industry objectives to be achieved, including that by 2035 all dairy calves should have access to a valued market chain, the Australian dairy industry and supply chain should promote responsible breeding and rearing practices that support successful dairy and meat production and markets, and that the industry should avoid the destruction of surplus livestock unless there are no other options. Geoff Cox, Chair of the TFGA Dairy Council, and other members of the ADF Farm Operations Policy Advisory Group played pivotal roles in reviewing and contributing to the final policy presented to the ADF Board to ensure it reflects the Tasmanian requirements for profitable dairy businesses. Numerous dairy farmers and industry partners have already embarked on proactive measures to tackle this challenge, engaging in research initiatives, conducting production trials, and fostering partnerships within their supply chains. These endeavors are providing promising pathways to positive outcomes, but we should not rest on this alone, as significant work is required to ensure there is a valued place for all calves.
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The industry is responsive to the concerns of consumers, processors, and retailers, demonstrating a commitment to sustainable practices, which allows the dairy farmer to see value from these calves, despite the fluctuations in the markets. The outlook for the dairy industry is optimistic, with Tasmanian farmers leading the way in producing world-class products and steering the industry toward meeting consumers' expectations for animal husbandry. This new policy provides leadership to the Australian dairy industry to ensure it develops strategies that unite the entire supply chain to achieve a workable, socially acceptable, and profitable outcome.