Farmers angered by Dairy Australia email accusing social media sites of spreading misinformation

A leaked email has set Dairy Australia at odds with the farmers it represents, after it named a number of farmer-based social media accounts and the strategy for dealing with them. By Warwick Long.
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A screenshot of the email, shared widely on social media, listed a number of areas where the organisation said misinformation about a key decision on the dairy industry’s future was being spread.
The Senate, an ACCC inquiry, and individual Facebook and Twitter groups were named in the email.
«[Dairy Australia] certainly did [send the email],» Dairy Australia managing director Ian Halliday said.
«But the screenshot that’s being talked about wasn’t the complete email.»
The email also mentioned the dairy levy poll.
Every three years farmers are given the option to vote on the level of compulsory fees they will pay for research and development for the industry.
The fees are the funding used at Dairy Australia.
This year, a 15-person committee agreed that a vote was not required and the fees farmers paid should remain the same.
That decision has been controversial.
No regrets from Dairy Australia
Dairy Australia has tried to distance itself from the issue, and the email told its staff not to engage in discussions on social media.
The email reads, «A number of Facebook pages (including Farmer Power and Dairy Farming Classified and Information Australia [a private group]) are chatting about the levy poll advisory committee’s process and decisions. Conversations are also taking place on the Senate and ACCC inquiries.
«A smaller group of farmers is also active on Twitter, eg @CMPA (the Concerned Milk Producers Association).
«A new group has appeared today called Dairy Live @livedairy (we’re not sure who is behind this group so please let me know if you have any information).»
Mr Halliday said he did not regret naming individual groups in the email.
«We monitor all media types whether it be social media, whether it’s newspapers, whether it’s radio,» he said.
Advice on using social media
Cam McIlveen runs the Concerned Milk Producers Assocation Twitter accounts and admitted he was surprised to be named in the email.
«I’m really a bit shocked actually,» he said.
Mr McIlveenn said the group he ran should be the lowest of priorities in the dairy industry.
«It’s nothing derogatory, hateful or spiteful. It’s more a parody account to have a laugh,» he said.
As for being monitored by Dairy Australia, Mr McIlveen had some advice for Dairy Australia on how to use social media.
«Maybe they should listen to the grassroots and interact a little bit more,» he said.
Source: ABC

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