A south-west dairy farmer is concerned about the future of the industry.
Chris Gleeson, who owns three dairy farms near Koroit, said the number of people pursuing a career in agriculture had declined rapidly in recent years.
He said he believed there were a number of factors which had resulted in this concerning trend.
"People aren't willing to put their hand up to work," Mr Gleeson said.
He said some farmers were sponsoring overseas workers to take up roles.
Mr Gleeson said while an outdoor job in the elements wasn't for everyone, it was very rewarding and no two days working on a farm were the same.
Some farmers were forced to cut back on staff costs when supermarkets were selling $1 a litre milk, Mr Gleeson said.
This resulted in a period of time when young people weren't entering the industry and many changed careers.
Mr Gleeson said the tough times had resulted in some farmers exiting the industry.
Some felt they had no choice because they were unable to continue to run their operations on their own.
"I know people who have left the industry because they can't get people to help them," Mr Gleeson said.
"Getting trained staff is a real challenge."
Mr Gleeson said the rising cost of land meant the dream of owning a farm was out of reach for a growing number of people.
"Farmers are getting older and the next generation is not coming through," he said.
This is a trend Naringal-based dairy supply business owner Charles Dillon has witnessed.
Mr Dillon said high input costs and a lack of workers were also making it harder for humble family farms to survive with a 'bigger is better' model seemingly the secret to sustainable businesses.
A lack of affordable housing was also an issue when trying to attract workers, Mr Gleeson said.
"If you want good staff you have to provide housing and that's another challenge," he said.
Mr Gleeson said attracting workers was one issue for dairy farmers, but there were others that needed addressing.
Labelling of milk alternatives is another threat to the dairy industry, according to Mr Gleeson.
"We need to protect our brand," he said.
Mr Gleeson said products derived from soy or almonds should not be allowed to be labelled as milk.
Last week, former Warrnambool Cheese & Butter managing director and chief executive officer John McLean said he feared Australia would soon become a major importer of dairy foods.
Mr McLean said less than 10 years ago it was predicted Australian milk production would reach 12 billion litres a year.
He said the current annual supply was about eight billion litres - or less.
"More and more dairy products will be imported into Australia. In the not too distant future we will be a very big importer of dairy," he said.
Their comments come as Dairy Australia launched a campaign, spearheaded by former Warrnambool man and AFL great Jonathan Brown, to address job shortages.
A survey conducted by Dairy Australia found one in four dairy farmers were unable to find labour or access the skills they need on-farm.
Verity Ingham, Dairy Australia's regional services general manager, said it was a worrying trend.
"Some 22 per cent of dairy farmers were also unable to fill vacant positions within three months with 40 per cent losing at least one or more workers," Ms Ingham said.
The campaign showcases why working in dairy matters, highlighting factors that have shown to motivate people to consider a job in dairy.
These factors include working with animals, working outdoors, career progression, job variety and training, job security and the contribution Australian dairy makes to the community through production of a highly nutritious food.
Ms Ingham said the aim of the campaign is to bring people into the industry - and keep them.
"Competition for jobseekers in regional areas is fierce, so finding good, reliable people is a priority for dairy farmers. Keeping them is just as important.
"We need workers on our farms to keep the milk flowing, the cheese on tables, the yoghurt in our lunchboxes and we really are looking for people who want job security, who like working with and caring for animals; people who are looking for variety, flexibility in their work life or wanting career progression."
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