Report points to diverse industry

By Geoff Adams

Dairy News editor Geoff Adams shares his thoughts on the latest Dairy Farm Monitor report.

The latest Victorian Dairy Farm Monitor Project report is an interesting reflection on the state of the industry and reflects the diversity of the sector across the nation.

The authors of the report have pointed out how dairy farm businesses are going through different experiences in the same year.

For anyone in the north of the state, 2018–2019 was a shocker.

The report found the results were the worst since the project started, although it needs to be pointed out that this represents just 13 years.

High water and feed prices, and low rainfall, contributed towards a year when very few of the surveyed farmers could get a return on equity.

Slightly better weather in the south west of Victoria enabled farmers to generate extra feed and with improved milk prices, the surveyed farms generally improved their economic position.

Gippsland, once again, has proven to be not a homogenous region, with the western zone getting just below average rainfall, while in the east the rain couldn’t be relied on.

Average profit figures for Gippsland were down.

At the time of going to press, we were waiting for the NSW report, which is likely to show an industry impacted by the ongoing drought.

The figures emerging from these surveys indicate how weather dependant the industry remains, despite attempts to control inputs, like water and feed.

Processors could add that prices are at a relative high, but that is small comfort when costs are eating away at the margins.

Consultants are encouraging farmers to try to plan ahead, lock in feed and water costs early, maintain milk production, aim for the best value out of purchased feed and reduce waste.