INDUSTRY-OWNED national services body, Dairy Australia, invested over $58.2 million back into the dairy industry in 2012/13, an increase of 10 per cent on 2011/12.
That’s according to Dairy Australia’s 2012/13 Annual Report released this week, which also reveals 70pc of the total investment went to research, development and extension (RD&E) activities.

Dairy Australia received $32.8m from milk levies and $19.2m from government matching payments in the same period, and says its reserves at June 30, 2013 were $34.97m.

In 2012/13 Dairy Australia managed 25 programs delivered to the industry through 89 projects.

In the report, Dairy Australia chair Max Roberts said over the last five years, the national milk production volume has hovered between 9 and 9.5 billion litres per year—with an average of 44 per cent exported.

He said like all agricultural sectors, the pressures for dairy to compete both domestically and internationally continued and this year was one of the most challenging due to seasonal conditions, softening milk prices and tight margins.

“Despite the challenges, our industry has once again proved itself to be incredibly resilient and resourceful in what has been a year of positive consolidation for many dairy farmers,” Mr Roberts said.

“Dairy Australia has been assisting levy payers to cope with challenges through practical solutions, direct action programs and on-the-ground support.

“This focus has seen strong return on investment for industry stakeholders. More than 70 major projects are now in action for dairy farmers.”

He said the Regional Development Programs, financially supported by Dairy Australia, leveraged $8.3m external funds and in-kind services bringing support to farmers in their regions.

Dairy Australia’s annual general meeting (AGM) will be held in Melbourne on November 29, and Mr Roberts is stepping down from his role with Dairy Australia after the meeting.

“The AGM is not only an opportunity for Dairy Australia members to see how their levy has been spent over the past 12 months, but also a chance to vote on some important recommendations for change in the organisation’s constitution,” Mr Roberts said.

“An increase of farmer representatives on the board from three directors to four, and a limiting of directors’ tenure to a maximum of three three year terms are two of the most important recommendations, on which members will be able to cast their vote, flowing from the Constitutional Review process.”

According to the report, the national dairy herd comprises 1.65 million cows, with the average herd size 258 cows.

Estimated milk production sits at 9.2 billion litres.

The dairy industry is Australia’s third-largest rural industry, valued at $13 billion as a farm, manufacturing and export industry.

A total of 40pc of milk production is exported with Greater China now Australia’s biggest export customer.

Source: Queensland Country Life