NEXT March's Dairy Services Levy poll and its four options will be a topic of discussion at the annual Western Dairy Spring Forum in Bunbury on Tuesday, November 30.
A panel comprising Jindong dairy farmer Peter Evans, Waroona dairy farmer Vicki Fitzpatrick and Dairy Australia chairman and South Australian farmer James Mann will discuss potentially the first dairy levy increase since 2012.
Mr Evans is Western Dairy chairman and its representative on an independent Levy Poll Advisory Committee (LPAC) which recently recommended a 20 per cent increase in levy to maintain investment in research and development, extension, industry protection and promotion over the next five years.
Ms Fitzpatrick is a former Western Dairy chairperson and the panel discussion will be facilitated by former Western Dairy executive officer Esther Jones.
Next March dairy farmers will be asked to nominate their preferred choice out of no change to the levy, 15pc increase, 20pc increase or 25pc increase.
Currently they pay a total levy of 10.0562 cents per kilogram of milk fat and protein they produce.
Mr Evans said the recommended 20pc increase in the levy would maintain funding in traditional areas, as well as deliver on commitments from the Australian Dairy Plan on labour, regional services, climate change and policy development.
"The levy is a collective investment in the future productivity, protection and promotion of the dairy industry," Mr Evans said.
"Up to $60 million is invested each year to deliver services, which comprises 50 per cent from levy funds, 35pc from the Australian Government and 15pc from external contributions and grants.
"To deliver current services the industry has had to draw from levy reserves.
"Given current and predicted future levels of milk production, the LPAC considered the viability of this strategy if this level of innovation and services are to be maintained over the next five years."
Forest Grove dairy farmer and WAFarmers' dairy section president Ian Noakes also supported a levy increase.
"An increase in the levy would enable Dairy Australia and Western Dairy locally to help address labour supply needs, provide farmers with more accessible and tailored regional services, support farmers to adapt in a changing climate and reduce dairy farm emissions and ensure farmers have a stronger voice through more informed policy positions," Mr Noakes said, although he did not specify a favoured increase option.
The Western Dairy Spring Forum will be held at the Dolphin Discovery Centre, Bunbury, from 10am.
Other speakers at the forum will examine WA dairy business performance, soil carbon and accounting, labour supply and training, best-practice effluent management and the WA Dairy Plan collaboration.
Industry ambassador and former AFL player Jonathan Brown will be guest speaker.
Western Dairy's annual general meeting will follow at 2pm.
Register for the Spring Forum via bit.ly/3EmDEAe by 5pm Friday, November 26.
Information on the dairy levy poll is at dairypoll.com.au
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