June 8, 2020


Australia's Queensland dairy farms drop below 300



As COVID-19 affected the world and almost all economies and different industries, the number of dairy farms left in Australia's Queensland quietly slid below 300 farms, The North Queensland Register reported.


Another three months have passed since anything significant has come from the Australian Dairy Plan Committee since the Joint Transition Teams job was completed except for the formation of the Engagement and Design Team. Businesses in the cities have been severely disrupted by the pandemic but local farmers have continued to carry on business-as-usual to deliver quality milk to Australian consumers. There is an expectation that the national dairy bodies should have done likewise.


The figures for Queensland's dairy industry, released by Dairy Australia last week, show production was down by 19% on-year in April, representing a drop of over five million litres. This is a 13% decrease for the year to date.


Already, Queensland is the lowest producing state in Australia, producing 263.9 versus the next closest state being South Australia at 304.6 for the 2019/2020 year. Tasmania is the only state in the red, with even Victoria being marginally down on-year.


These figures should be alarming and should send our dairy industry leaders and the politicians who are tasked with protecting our nation's food sources into a tailspin.


The reasons for the decline are many but remain stubbornly consistent. Low farmgate milk prices, the ongoing drought and the associated cost increases to production have continued to affect our farmers' bottom line and ineffective RDE towards reducing farmer costs and increasing yields. Over 67% of Queensland remains drought declared. In New South Wales this figure is over 95% and production on-year is down by 4.9%.


Many producers have simply been unable to hold on. This highlights the desperate need for a complete overhaul of the way the dairy industry works. Our leaders at a national level need to start focusing on the industry across all of Australia, not just concentrate its support of the south-eastern dairying regions.


While Queensland is not the nation's leading producer, its ongoing survival is vital to the long-term viability of all of Australia's dairy industry.