Low milk prices had made the past 12 months “a harsh and incredibly tough season” for most south-west dairy farmers, WestVic Dairy chairman Simone Renyard said.
But while confidence levels were currently low, most of the south-west farmers surveyed in the National Dairy Farmer Survey expect to increase production by 2019-2020.
Those insights were among the information presented in WestVic Dairy’s 2016-2017 annual report.
Ms Renyard said she believed WestVic Dairy had delivered Dairy Australia’s best performing Regional Development Program to meet the challenges of the tough times.
She said the tough times had driven the WestVic Dairy board to ensure its extension programs delivered what farmers wanted and helped them recover from a difficult period.
The annual report said the south-west was still recovering from the 2015-2016 dairy price step downs and difficult seasonal conditions.
However a mild, wet summer and lower input costs had provided some breathing space for many farm businesses.
Reductions in herd size had continued in 2016-2017 from the past financial year and cull cow prices had been continuously high, creating some extra income and security for farmers.
While confidence in the future of the industry was still low, better seasonal conditions, more stable international markets and lower input costs offered hope for a brighter future, the annual report said.
Other information from the annual report about dairy farms in the region covered by WestVic Dairy, which extends west from Geelong to the South Australian border, included:
The western Victorian dairy region produced 2.1 billion litres of milk in 2016-2017 – just over 22 per cent of Australia‘s milk volume.
The “average” WestVic farm has a herd size of 330 cows and its average production per cow is 5761 litres
The average amount of grain fed per cow per year is 1.5 tonnes
Sixty one per cent of farmers surveyed undertook seasonal calving while 33 per cent backed split calving.
Sixty eight per cent could see future opportunities in the dairy industry and 92 per cent had made changes to deal with challenges.