TALK about farmer profitability, financial stress and industry lobby hijacked an industry meeting at Terang last night.About 30 people, including 25 local dairy farmers, met with senior Dairy Australia representatives more than a year after a fiery discussion in Warrnambool about the Dairy Service Levy Poll.
The evening was supposed to be about money farmers pay to Dairy Australia, which increased 10 per cent last year, and the value they derive from this investment.
But talk quickly changed to current farmgate financial pressure.
Calls for Dairy Australia to lobby on behalf of the industry were popular.
Crossley dairy farmer Chris Gleeson, and new lobby group co-founder, told the meeting about 20 per cent of the region's dairy farmers would hit the wall without immediate help and another 20 per cent were at risk in the next 12 months if the current terms of trade didn't improve.
Crossley farmer Karrinjeet Singh-Mahil asked if the cost of the government funds was too high because it prevented Dairy Australia from lobbying.
Dairy Australia managing director Ian Halliday said the organisation couldn't directly lobby due to a funding arrangement with the Federal Government, but it analysed policy for elected industry representatives.
Mr Halliday said up to $30 million of funding - matching levy payments and extra government grants - could be lost to the industry if it directly lobbied.
Roma Britnell from Woolsthorpe told the meeting a local bank said there were five forced dairy farm sales in the region last year and this year 10 were on the cards and many were top 15 per cent of the industry.
She said farmers wanted money used for analysis of economic situations in the future.
Farmers were also unhappy with the appointment of former Dairy Australia board members to a committee that would review the organisations' constitution this year.
Mr Gleeson said appointing one of those responsible for setting up Dairy Australia, Allan Burgess, to the role didn't mean it was an independent review.
Dairy Australia chairman Max Roberts defended the appointment of Mr Burgess saying he bought historical context to discussions.
He said farmers could provide written submissions to the constitutional review.