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Australian Milk Quality Steering Group



In this project Harris Park Group was asked to establish and resource a dairy industry-wide steering group to prioritize and guide mastitis and milk quality control research, development and extension in Australia.



Members of Steering Group

Name Organisation/Rep
Stuart Griffin (Chair) ADF
Ruth Kydd ADF
Pauline Brightling Harris Park Group
John Craven Harris Park Group
Aaron Gosling GGDF
Kathryn Davis DA
Meaghan Johnston Murray Goulburn
Durham Prewett Fonterra
John House University of Sydney
Daniel Dickeson Lion
Rod Dyson Milk quality advisers
Jakob Malmo AVA- Cattle Veterinarians
Geoff Matthews Milking machine technicians
Graeme Mein Mastitis research
Mark Humphris Countdown
Sylvia Vagg NCDEA
Sarah Chaplin DEPI
Carol Millar NHIA
David Beggs AVA

Terms of reference


Milk quality is an important component of farm productivity and profitability and fundamental to the success of the supply chain and the resilience of the dairy industry. Maintaining milk quality is a complex, multi‚Äźfactorial, pre-farm gate activity (there is no ‘fix’ in the manufacturing process). The main focus in achieving high milk quality is mastitis control, together with effective cleaning of milking machines and milk cooling/storage equipment. This requires farmers to apply management activities which are appropriate for particular and often changing circumstances in their herds. Investment in technology (knowledge, services or products) and capacity to support farmers in mastitis control management is an important priority for the industry. 


Recent planning initiatives in the dairy industry such as Dairy Moving Forward have highlighted the need to focus research and development on improving udder health. Dairy Australia, the Geoffrey Gardiner Dairy Foundation (GGDF) and the Victorian Department of Primary Industries have all committed to future investment in this area. To ensure that all of these initiatives are coordinated into a cohesive program that delivers maximum benefits to the industry it was proposed that an Australian Milk Quality Steering Group (AMQSG) be formed. The Geoffrey Gardiner Dairy Foundation and Dairy Australia have agreed to fund this group for three years. This group is to include representation from all the key stakeholder groups and is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that research, development and extension is coordinated and focussed on helping farmers to control cell counts and reduce mastitis infections.



To ensure that all the key stakeholders with an interest in milk quality and mastitis are engaged in planning and reviewing relevant research, development and extension projects to ensure that they deliver optimum benefits for Australian dairy farmers.



To achieve this over-arching objective it is anticipated that the AMQSG will:

  • Provide national oversight of research, development, extension  and training initiatives aimed at improving farmer ability to control cell counts and reduce the occurrence of mastitis;
  • Identify gaps in resources, skills and knowledge that are limiting progress in delivering improvements in the ability of farmers to control cell counts and mastitis;
  • Identify gaps in resources, skills and knowledge that are limiting the ability of farmers to effectively clean, disinfect and monitor their milking machines and milk cooling/storage equipment.
  • Canvas opinions from dairy manufacturers and relevant government departments about anticipated future market requirements for the quality of Australian dairy products;
  • Review progress towards achievement of agreed goals for milk quality and reduction of mastitis.
  • Assisting with alignment of research, development, extension and training programs in milk quality and mastitis.



Funds to support this Steering Group have been provided by the Gardiner Foundation and Dairy Australia on the following basis:


The Australian Milk Quality Steering Group will be a skills based group, with up to 12 members from the main disciplines in this domain: dairy farmers, veterinarians and milking machine technicians. It will also include membership from the main investors in R,D and E in this area: dairy companies, Dairy Australia, the Geoffrey Gardiner Dairy Foundation and NCDEA. The Chair will be a dairy farmer.” 


The dairy industry has recognised a need for providing opportunities for younger people to develop leadership skills. In the Dairy Moving Forward initiative it was recognised that the industry has invested significantly in development opportunities for its people, but that it could be better equipped to support those people to take the next step into real leadership roles. The draft policy being developed in response to this finding includes a proposal to seek opportunities for younger people to be members of industry committees and steering groups. Organisations being asked to nominate members to this steering group are encouraged to keep this in mind when nominating their representatives.



Meetings – it is anticipated that the AMQSG will hold face to face meetings two or three times per year. People with specialist knowledge may be invited to attend meetings where their knowledge can make a valuable contribution to the discussion


The AMQSG may appoint working groups to deal with specific issues and to oversight individual projects if considered appropriate.



The AMQSG will report to ADIC on an annual basis and, if requested, may report on specific issues at more frequent intervals.


It is anticipated that the process of reporting to ADIC will be through the Steering Committee of Dairy Moving Forward (DMF). The AMQSG is framed along the lines of a Community of Interest as proposed by DMF to keep all interested parties informed of progress in a specific area of interest and to ensure that RD&E activities are coordinated. While the AMMQSG is more formally constituted than the proposed Communities of Interest it is consistent with the concept and will provide a mechanism for reporting to ADIC.




The Harris Park Group will provide secretarial services for the AMQSG and it is anticipated that this activity will include a convenor role to help plan meetings and ensure that decisions are implemented.



It is expected that, in general, the cost of attending meetings will be met by the employers of steering group members. However, it has been agreed that the Geoffrey Gardiner Dairy Foundation and Dairy Australia will meet the costs of farmers and other self-employed group members. These two organizations will also meet the cost of organising meetings of the Steering Group.



Fact file

The Australian Milk Quality Steering Group Is an initiative of the Geoffrey Gardiner Dairy Foundation and Dairy Australia.
Program objective: To establish and resource an industry-wide steering group to prioritize and guide mastitis and milk quality control R, D and E in Australia.

Started: First meeting 15 November, 2011



Program Convener:
John Craven