ADF Gets a Taste of Bega

Cows on the D’Arcy farm in Tarraganda, NSW are at ease with the robotic milking system.

Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) hosted several ministerial and departmental staffers, including from the office of the Federal Minister for Agriculture, on a tour of Bega in October, introducing them to the dairy industry and ensuring that dairy remains at the forefront of the Government’s considerations when formulating policy.

The delegation commenced with a day trip to the Bega factory, where attendees including ministerial advisers and Department of Agriculture staff joined ADF and representatives of industry bodies NSWFarmers, Dairy Australia and the National Farmers’ Federation to discuss challenges facing dairy, including labour and skills shortages.

While touring the factory floor and marvelling at how efficient dairy production lines need to be, attendees discussed the importance of a pro-dairy outcome with regards to the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement and the mutual benefits such a deal would bring for all involved. In particular, the opportunity to widen the potential export market was noted as Bega workers packaged up goods to be transported to the Middle East, USA, New Zealand, and South East Asia.

Continuing on to the 160 hectare D’Arcy farm in Tarraganda, where robotic milkers have replaced manual labour in the dairy shed, the group of dairy novices were treated to a demonstration of owner and farmer Andrew D’Arcy’s six newly installed robotic milking boxes. The D’Arcy farm is the first in Bega Valley to install such a system and the second in New South Wales to do so.

At a time when dairy farms are still rebuilding herd numbers after years of drought in NSW, therobotic system is a spectacular example of farmers’ investment in the future of dairy. ADF explained the many other ways Australian dairy farmers are innovating, ranging from nutrition to genomics to margin-focused business models.

The trip was a brilliant opportunity for ministerial advisers to improve their understanding of dairy farming and production, putting the challenges and opportunities at hand for dairy in direct context and strengthening the relationship between ADF and Government. Following the trip, several ministerial advisers commented on the valuable insights they had gained into the dairy industry and
that they now have a greater appreciation of the innovative practices in use from the farm gate to the factory.

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