New South Wales’ dairy industry could reveal up to a three-fold increase in profitability for farmers following guidance from the state government.
Australian Minister for Emergency Management, David Littleproud, and NSW Minister for Agriculture, Adam Marshall, announced on 11 March 2021 a $6 million grant from the NSW and Australian Government’s Stage One Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund – Sector Development Grants.
The funding will reportedly contribute to a project total of $16 million, with significant co-contributions from Dairy Australia, the University of Sydney, the private sector, NSW dairy industry organisations and the broader national dairy industry.
Littleproud said the funding and collaboration will deliver a multi-year program to accelerate recovery and build business resilience and growth in the dairy industry, following the significant impacts of the 2019/20 bushfires.
“Our dairy industry has faced multiple challenges recently and we welcome this announcement of return to profitability as they emerge from this difficult period,” said Littleproud.
“The Federal and NSW Governments have both kicked the tin to make this possible.
“Agriculture is the cornerstone of the economic recovery and the dairy industry is embracing innovations to keep the sector growing,” he said.
“Our farmers are a tough bunch who have shown an impressive amount of resilience over the last few years, but they’re not in this alone – this Government continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with them to help prepare for the future,” said Marshall.
“Industry asked for more investment in research and development, and our initial response is this $6 million investment toward a $16 million collaborative research, development and extension program that will create new jobs, boost investment and diversification, increase productivity, while also making farming businesses more resilient.”
The NSW Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) Dairy Farm Monitor Project monitors 35 farms across the State covering a range of farm sizes and farm systems. Figures for 2019/20 revealed that average farm business profit for these farms increased from $0.38/kgMS (Milk Solids) to $1.05/kgMS.
Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Michael Johnsen, said the NSW Government had partnered with the University of Sydney’s Dairy Research Foundation (DRF) to deliver the collaborative program.
“The combined effect of bushfires, drought and the Covid-19 pandemic reduced milk output and disrupted the supply chain which has impacted everyone, from farmers to processors, right down to consumers,” said Johnsen.
“But pleasingly, we are now seeing industry turn around and return to the productivity that made it a world-leader in the dairy space. NSW DPI data has shown profitability for 2019/20 was at the third highest level in the nine years in which farms have been monitored across.
“The dairy industry is worth more than $600 million to the State’s economy each year, so it’s vital we fast-track recovery, especially from last summer’s bushfires.”
University of Sydney DRF Director, Professor Sergio Garcia, is the project’s lead, and said the collaborative program would accelerate the recovery of the drought and fire-affected NSW dairy industry, and improve farm business resilience and preparedness.
“We termed the program ‘4Hs’ – healthy milk, cows, systems, and people,” said Professor Garcia.
“The Program looks to unlock the potential of milk, cow and water to address farm underperformance, de-risk the dairy industry, and develop new markets. We hope to accelerate the sector’s recovery and contribute to its future successes and profitability.”
Professor Garcia worked with NSW Fresh Milk and Dairy Advocate, Ian Zandstra, to secure contributions from a broad range of partners.
“This is a truly collaborative program, having attracted cash and in-kind investment totaling $16 million from the government, industry, education and private sectors,” said Zandstra.
Dairy Australia Managing Director, Dr David Nation, said the five-year initiative will support priority areas identified by the NSW dairy industry.
“The Program is very well supported by a range of NSW organisations and dairy businesses, and Dairy Australia welcomes the opportunity to participate,” he said.