DAIRY farmers are being urged by industry representatives to vote on the Dairy Australia levy.

15 Feb, 2007 07:00 PM

The voting options are to in-crease the levy to 1.15pc, keep it at 1pc or abolishing it altogether.

The levy is used to provide a number of services to dairy farmers including research and development, innovation, protecting the industry from animal welfare rights groups, promotion and representation to governments.

Mr Evans said considering the value of the Dairy Australia research it was worth keeping the levy at the same rate of 0.315c/L or 1pc of the farmgate milk price, or increase it to 1.15pc.

The increase would equate to an extra $500 per million litres.

³When you look at the rese-arch going on today, in 10 years the technology is going to reach a level that will benefit farmers even more,² Mr Evans said.

³We should see it as an investment, not an expense.²

It is expected that due to drought in the eastern states, dairy farm incomes will drop drastically to reduce the amount of funds Dairy Australia has to work with by $10 million.

The farmgate levy is matched by Federal Government and any drop in funds would see government funding drop also.

Australian Dairy Farmers chief executive officer John McQueen said Dairy Australia needed about $58m a year to deliver its current level of services.

³We predict a $10m reduction in funds,² Mr McQueen said.

He said the drop in milk volume because of the drought would see 25pc less than during the drought of 2001-02.

³The reason why it is so dramatic is because people do not recover from these droughts in one year,² Mr McQueen said.

He said Dairy Australia would need to prioritise its projects and with new issues to solve like drought, rising fuel prices and water availability, it was going to be difficult for the board to decide what the most important projects were.

He said work also needed to be done on forming a more professional feed grain industry and working with government to ensure that grains were produced for stock feed and not so much for fuels like ethanol.

Mr McQueen said the levy helped to fund against animal rights groups and those opposed to the drinking of milk from cows.

³Levy funds help protect against those who want to regulate us out of everything,² Mr McQueen said.

Voting slips were mailed out to all members and will need to be returned within the next few weeks in order to be counted.

The voting would be conduc-ted on a preferential voting system and each vote needed to be accompanied by the signature of the farmer.


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