Dairy farming is a costly way of life for many Australians, and it’s increasingly becoming the preferred method for dairy farmers to meet demand in the coming decades.
But according to a new report by the Australia Dairy Research Foundation, many dairy farmers aren’t paying their fair share.
As part of the Dairy Research Australia (DRA) survey, dairy farmers surveyed in the Northern Territory and South Australia were asked how much money they spent on dairy over the last year.
Dairy farmers in South Australia are paying the most, at $17,200, followed by those in the NT at $14,400, while in the ACT the gap between the two states is $9,200.
The research also found that in the Western Australia and Northern Territory, where dairy farmers have historically been able to get away with less, dairy prices are higher than they would be in any other state or territory.
“A lot of dairy farmers are being driven to spend a lot of money, but they’re not really paying as much as they could be, and that’s the result of the very low dairy price,” Dairy Research Minister Michael O’Sullivan said.
In some cases, farmers are taking a higher share of their dairy profits than is necessary, he said.
“It’s a way of keeping prices low for other producers.”
The survey also found the majority of dairy owners would prefer not to buy dairy in the future.
“The majority of the dairy farmers would rather buy fresh milk instead, which is good news for dairy producers, because fresh milk is a much more nutritious product,” Dairy researcher Ian Smith said.
But there are some small signs that prices are beginning to recover from the drought.
“A number of dairy farms are showing some signs of recovery and that could give us some hope for the future,” Mr O’Neill said.
In a statement, Mr Osmond said dairy was “one of the most sustainable industries in Australia”, and the government was committed to supporting dairy farmers in the best possible way.
“We know dairy is one of the safest, most nutritious food crops on earth and the best dairy farmers, and our dairy farmers need the support of the state, the Federal Government and the wider dairy industry,” he said.
“We are determined to support our dairy industry and support them as we move forward into the future.”