Dairy advocate awarded Aust Day honour
Noel Campbell, former president of Australia's peak dairy body, says dairy farming is still a good business despite many farmers losing faith in the industry's future.
The 60-year-old, who looks after 200 cows on his farm in south-eastern Victoria, says he was shocked to learn he had been appointed an Officer (AO) in the Order of Australia.
"I was pretty overwhelmed by it to be completely honest," he said.
Mr Campbell, who is a former Australian Dairy Farmers president and Australian Dairy Industry Council chair, played a key role in helping secure the industry's place in the free trade agreement with China in 2014.
"Probably farmers haven't (yet) had the full benefit of that because some of those things take about 10 years to wind their way in," he said.
"On the farm, people thought that there would be an immediate change but within 10 years we basically get down to zero tariffs, so it's a genuine free trade agreement."
Mr Campbell said the Murray Goulburn saga had prompted scepticism about the future of the dairy industry in Australia.
Canadian dairy giant Saput, which already owns Australian dairy processor Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, bought dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn for $1.31 billion last year but the deal is subject to approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Foreign Investment Review Board.
"There has been a significant loss of confidence because of the demise of the only major co-op, being Murray Goulburn, so farmers are a bit sceptical about the future of the industry," he said.
"But I think in the long haul it is still a good business to be in and it will always have it's ups and downs, as all international markets do."
Mr Campbell said he was happy to be receiving his honour on January 26, and believes an appropriate time to consider whether or not the date of Australia Day should be changed would be in the event the nation becomes a republic.
"To me the day doesn't relate to any previous issue that might have been carried out with respect to Aboriginal heritage and Aboriginals," he said.
"I see it as a celebration of Australia as it is today."
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