Aussie milk at risk from dairy exodus
DAIRY producers are rushing to exit the industry, as poor milk prices and high production costs contribute to the decline.
Dairy Food Safety Victoria figures show there has been a net loss of about 375 dairy farms since June 30 last year.
Compared to some 22,000 dairy farms spread throughout country Australia in the 1980s, there are now fewer than 6000 remaining today.
With an industry in crisis, dairy farmers are warning that dairy production in Australia will cease to exist if something isn't done immediately.
"If you look at the figures of the families lost to our industry in the last 18 months and the coming 12 months, you would have never seen an exodus of dairy farmers like it ever," fifth-generation dairy farmer Jason Smith told ABC.
The latest National Dairy Farmer Survey found about 6 per cent of dairy farmers intended to leave the industry within the next two years.
Numurkah dairy farmer Joe Few was one of them. Backing out of a three-year deal supplying Tatura Milk that he'd just landed in the past year, Mr Few told Weekly Times Now, "It was still cheaper to get out of the industry than to stay into 12 months of that contract."
Reports of farmers dropping off rapidly comes after NZ-based dairy exporter Fonterra announced its Australian milk production was down nearly 14 per cent from a year ago.
About one hundred workers - set to be out of a job if Fonterra's Dennington factory closes - were relieved to hear a spokeswoman confirm that interested buyers had approached the company since the closure was announced in May.
"We have been contacted by several non-dairy companies that have expressed interest. We are talking with them; however these discussions are commercial in confidence," she said, according to Warrnambool newspaperThe Standard.
South-West Coast MP Roma Britnell insisted last week the focus was on keeping the Dennington site open.
"It is an important site for our community and if we can see that continue to be operational, that's what we are looking for," she said.
"It is looking promising, I am hopeful for a positive outcome."