Australian dairy farmers are represented by the aptly named Australian Dairy Farmers Limited and I am very pleased that its president, Chris Griffin, was happy to be my guest on Milk Maid Marian. It is the first of a series of guest posts that I have planned featuring dairy leaders. If you would like to suggest more guests for MMM, please drop me a note!
MMM: Why are you a dairy farmer?
CG: Growing up on a dairy farm I have always wanted to be a dairy farmer. I have always been interested in issues beyond my front gate that affect our industry and especially now as President of Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) I want to ensure that our industry is given the recognition it deserves for all of the hard work that we do on a daily basis.
MMM: What are the hot topics discussed by dairy farmers?
CG: There are many topics that we farmers are concerned about, in particular Water, Carbon, Animal Health & Welfare and the retail supermarket milk price – not only what farmers receive but also the retail price that milk is being sold at in our supermarkets.
MMM: What is not being discussed that should be?
CG: Genetic Modification (GM) – there is potential coming out of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) on genomics and better pasture species. This is an exciting development and has the potential to have increased productivity gains for the industry. I also believe that we need to focus on the future of our industry and Australia’s need to produce high quality products. Our export ability will also continue to generate wealth for Australia.
MMM: What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for the dairy community?
CG: One challenge for farmers is returning our production to those of the pre-drought levels. As an industry, we also need to ensure that we continue to provide career paths for our younger generations. We also need to ensure that there are people continuing to contribute to our industry and understand the value and need for advocacy and representation at local, state and national levels.
MMM: If you had a magic wand…
CG: I would want to eliminate the urban/rural divide that has impacted our industry for some time. Farmers must be recognised for the value that they contribute in caring for their land, caring for their livestock and continually providing high quality products and nutritious food.
5 thoughts on “Questions for Aus Dairy Farmers president, Chris Griffin”
Hi Marion, Does the producer receive more from the processors for branded milk as opposed to the Coles & Woolies brands? Or are the processors simply topping up their profits when the price on the retail shelf is nearly double that of the home brands? I dont mind paying more for the branded milk, ie Pauls, but I’d like to be sure the producer is getting a bigger slice of the pie.
Thanks for asking, CC & Ruby. The short answer is that if the processors are paid less, they pay the farmers less because farmers have the least bargaining power of any of the players in the milk supply chain. This is particularly so in the case of Murray Goulburn Cooperative (processor of the Devondale brand) as all the profits flow back to the farmers who supply the milk. MG processes around 35% of Australia’s milk, so the Coop has quite a large influence on the price farmers receive (other processors often use the MG price as a benchmark – in Victoria at least). Does that answer your question?
Thanks Marian, I think so. Pauls milk in Qld is processed by Parmalat. I’ve asked Pauls the same question, but as it’s a public holiday I wont hear back from them until tomorrow, hopefully. I was speaking to a man recently who is working on a project to send milk from North Qld dairy farms directly offshore rather than sending it to Coles & Woollies, as they are really struggling to make ends meet. Wondered if all farmers were finding it difficult or just those supplying the homebrands. I’ll let you know what Pauls comes back with.
Thanks CC. I’ll be fascinated to hear what they have to say. Generally, there isn’t a really clear line in the sand – as a farmer, you don’t supply homebrand milk as such. Instead, you supply a processor (Parmalat is one example), which then sells the milk under its own brand names and/or fills a contract with a supermarket to package it as homebrand milk.
PS: You might also be interested in this post I did a little while ago explaining more about the milk wars: https://milkmaidmarian.com/2012/03/14/milk-war-myths/