Partridge answers WAFarmers' board call

Partridge answers WAFarmers' board call

Dairy
New WAFarmers board member Michael Partridge (right), had only just been elected head of its dairy council in October 2016 when multiple milk quality award-winning Harvey farmer Graham Manning was prematurely forced out of the industry and had to tip his last vat of milk down the drain because WA's three major milk processors would not collect it or sign him to a new supply agreement.

New WAFarmers board member Michael Partridge (right), had only just been elected head of its dairy council in October 2016 when multiple milk quality award-winning Harvey farmer Graham Manning was prematurely forced out of the industry and had to tip his last vat of milk down the drain because WA's three major milk processors would not collect it or sign him to a new supply agreement.

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WAFarmers said Mr Partridge was appointed to the board to fill a "casual vacancy"

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FOURTH-generation Benger dairy farmer Michael Partridge has joined the WAFarmers' board.

Mr Partridge was the WAFarmers' dairy council president for four years before stepping down 12 months ago, after leading the local industry through its most tumultuous time since deregulation 21 years ago.

For the four years prior to becoming president, he was dairy council vice-president and played a pivotal role in WAFarmers' opposition to $1-a-litre retail pricing of supermarket milks, introduced by Coles in 2011.

WAFarmers' unrelenting and eventually successful campaign, which developed the WAFarmersFirst milk brand to increase returns to dairy farmers from retail sales, saw Coles, Woolworths and Aldi abandon $1/L retail milk pricing two years ago.

For the eight-year period he was dairy council vice-president and president, Mr Partridge was also the WAFarmers' representative on Australian Dairy Farmers' (ADF) national dairy council.

He resigned from that position last year too and was replaced by current WAFarmers' dairy council president Ian Noakes, but Mr Partridge remains a member of the ADF's markets, trade and value policy advisory group.

Mr Partridge runs his family's White Rocks dairy farm and veal operation at Benger with his parents, wife Leanne and two teenage children, as well as a nearby smaller dairy operation.

WAFarmers said Mr Partridge was appointed to the board to fill a "casual vacancy" created when Pingelly farmer John Hassell became WAFarmers president earlier this year.

He will face election by members at next year's annual general meeting if he wishes to continue on the board, WAFarmers said.

Other WAFarmers board members are Kojonup sheep and wool producer Steve McGuire as vice-president, former grains council president and Beverley farmer Duncan Young, Williams farmer Mark Fowler and Narembeen farmer Jessie Davis.

Dandaragan Camel Dairies executive director and honorary consul of Brazil, Henry Steingiesser and Milne AgriGroup general manager Michael Tarling are independent skills-based board members.

Mr Partridge's father David, who is a life member of WAFarmers, was also its national dairy council representative and local dairy council office bearer.

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