A stalwart of WA’s dairy industry will lend his voice to an upcoming review of the nation’s dairy service levy, off the back of a turbulent few years for farmers. Jindong farmer and long-time industry advocate Peter Evans was one of nine dairy farmers across the country appointed to the Levy Poll Advisory Committee to help evaluate whether the industry’s current levy is appropriate. The 15-member committee, which also includes two representatives from Dairy Australia and Australian Dairy Farmers, one from Australian Dairy Products Federation and an independent chair, was formed in April, with a decision anticipated to be handed down in June. The levy was first introduced in 1958, but the current legislation surrounding its review was established in 2010, which initially called for a yearly review but has since been changed to every five years. The levy sits at just over 10¢/kg, calculated from milk fat and protein levels, and is put towards research and development, marketing, and Animal Health Australia membership, with expenditure managed by Dairy Australia Limited and AHA. Independent chair Ron Storey said Mr Evans would bring “a lot of experience” to the committee. Mr Evans, who with his son Grant milks 850 cows in a split-calving herd on 488ha, is the chair of Western Dairy and one of two LPAC members returning after previous reviews. “It’s an important decision for the Australian dairy industry,” Mr Evans said. “I’m seeking feedback on what people might think through Western Dairy.” In about three weeks, the committee will receive recommendations from DA and ADF on whether to maintain, increase or decrease the levy, which the committee will then consider and gather feedback from producers. If a change to the levy was proposed, the committee would call for a poll, which would extend the process into next year. Mr Storey said the last time the levy was changed dated back about a decade ago, with no changes made during the 2016 review. He said the review was an important process for the industry. “It allows the dairy farmers to sit down from time to time and say, ‘is it too much or too little or is it appropriate’,” Mr Storey said. “And it’s for a five-year period so they can have some certainty.” Mr Evans is joined on the committee by Tasmanian dairy farmers Katrina Grofton and Andrew Aldridge, Victorian dairy farmers Karrinjeet Singh-Mahil, Brendan Rae and Daryl Hoey, Queensland dairy farmer Matthew Trace, New South Wales’ Heath Cook and South Australia’s Andrew Cavill. The number of nominations received this year doubled those in 2016, with Mr Storey pleased with the farmers selected to represent the country’s 4000 farmers. “I am delighted with this level of grassroots input,” he said. “We have a balance of representation across dairy regions, years of farming experience, herd sizes, and owner-sharefarmer experience. The LPAC will now get down to business to review the levy.” The industry has encountered many challenges in the new millennium, from deregulation in 2000 — which saw the number of farmers nationwide drop from about 12,500 to 5200 — to ongoing drought and price issues. Many farmers were also subject to what Mr Storey called a “major market disruption” by Murray Goulburn in 2016, when the major milk processor dropped their prices, which he said resulted in a period of “very, very low” milk prices.