Farming systems and herd improvement

The farming systems and herd improvement policy advisory group’s (PAG) focus is to drive sustainable farm profitability. This PAG supports ADF’s policy and advocacy work on issues ranging from dairy research, development and extension (RD&E) strategy, farm decision-making tools, farm business management, Genetic Modification (GM) delivery to farm, herd improvement, and agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals.

The PAG has important links to both DataGene and the Dairy Futures Cooperative Research Centre (Dairy Futures CRC), and is strongly supported through technical input from Dairy Australia

Scope

  • National R,D&E strategy and priority setting

  • Farm systems

  • Farm decision making tools

  • Biotechnology and GM delivery to farm

  • Genetics

  • Gene markers

  • Herd improvement

  • R,D&E investment priorities

  • Genetic information systems and data capture improvement

  • Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme (ADHIS)

  • Co-operative Research Centre

Priorities

  • Continue to breed cows based on research proven for Australian conditions.

  • Improve fertility and the capacity for genetic improvements through technology.

  • Enhance dairy farmers’ ability to confidently manage animal performance and respond to challenges.

  • Build greater industry innovation through collaborative R,D&E.

  • Encourage a culture that understands that good business management results in improved decisions.

Policies

Agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals
  • Remove the requirement for agvet chemical re-approval and re-registrations, particularly where these products have a history of safe use.
  • Examine options to improve regulation of minor use chemicals.
  • Conduct formal assessment of trade implications when regulating agvet chemicals associated with food production, including those used on feed crops.
  • The APVMA should:
    • accept international regulatory assessments, data, product registration status and history of use in support of registering products in Australia,
    • integrate agricultural production systems into decision making, and
    • be funded through cost recovery from the chemical industry (via fees and levies), in line with the “user pays” principle.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
  • ADF recognises the potential productivity benefits of GMOs and the need to innovate to remain globally competitive.
  • ADF supports farmers’ rights to use GM technology where available.
  • ADF supports the coexistence of conventional, organic, identity preserved and GM technologies.
  • ADF endorses the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) and its science-based approach and robust risk analysis to ensuring the safety of GM products.
  • Newer gene editing techniques must be regulated in the same way as other technologies of equal risk and gene technology in agricultural applications, human medical and disease applications are subject to risk assessments that are relevant for each application.
  • Organisms should be excluded from regulation where they are indistinguishable from products of techniques that are not gene technology.
  • GM status statement should be removed from dairy stock feed vendor declarations.
Herd Improvement
  • ADF endorses the Herd Improvement Industry Strategy.
  • ADF supports a strong Australian genetics service that produces cows best suited to Australian conditions.
  • Australian dairy farmers should have access to the best available advice, based on robust evidence (including Genetics x Environment – G x E) to assist them to make the best breeding decisions for their herd.
  • Good breeding decisions have the potential to achieve significant benefits in farm productivity, profitability and animal welfare.
  • Good cost/benefit information will help improve support for the domestic service.
  • ADF supports the development of an industry strategy as a pathway to agree an industry view on our objectives for the Australian dairy herd.
  • ADF supports farmer leadership in making the most of the opportunities for genetic improvement to increase farm profitability.
Regulation
  • The regulatory framework should be streamlined by improving alignment between jurisdictions and departments.
  • Regulation is not the only or most effective way to achieve environmental outcomes; industry-led performance is a powerful way of industries taking responsibility for their actions.
  • Governments should ensure regulation is flexible and transparent, particularly concerning costs to farmers.
  • Complete regulatory impact statements for all regulation prior to implementation.
  • Industry associations should be used to disseminate information and deliver farmer education about regulation and compliance.
  • The creators and beneficiaries of risk should pay for government administration. Risk should not be a socialised cost.
  • Resource management, policy development, regulatory enforcement and service provision should be separated institutionally.
Research, development and extension (RD&E)
  • ADF supports the research development corporation (RDC) system to ensure RDCs have the ongoing capability to deliver key programs and respond to new challenges.
  • ADF does not support a separate organisation to manage cross-sectoral work and collaboration.
  • ADF recognises that RDCs are not homogenous, and endorses the role Dairy Australia plays in areas beyond RD&E such as technical policy support.
  • ADF supports the National Primary Industries Research, Development and Extension Framework.
  • The dairy industry should advance RD&E priorities in the areas of advanced technology, biosecurity, soil, water and natural resource management.
  • ADF supports extending the Dairy Futures CRC program.
  • Extension services should be delivered according to who is best placed to achieve outcomes on a case by case basis.
  • ADF supports the provision of more funding to support agricultural education and training.
  • ADF supports increasing the use of industry and vocational education and training sector resources.
  • ADF does not support relocating key government bodies to regional areas where the relocation will impose additional costs (to both industry and government), put essential relationships at risk, result in possible loss of specialist staff, and reduce effectiveness.
  • ADF supports a “hub and spoke” model for delivering RD&E.
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