Dairy farmers will be able to improve their on-farm productivity thanks to one of the largest funding boosts to the sector in recent years.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud and his NSW counterpart Adam Marshall have today announced a $16 million dairy investment for a new five-year program addressing industry research and development to accelerate recovery and build business resilience and growth in the sector.
Of the funding $6 million is from the NSW and Australian Government's stage one Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund sector development grants.
It comes as The Land can reveal NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) figures have found an up to three-fold increase in profitability for farmers despite the challenges of drought and bushfires. The DPI Dairy Farm Monitor Project monitored 35 farms across the state covering a range of farm sizes and farm systems with figures for 2019/20 showing that average farm business profit for these farms increased from $0.38/kgMS (Milk Solids) to $1.05/kgMS.
NSW Farmers' dairy chair Colin Thompson said the industry had been working towards this type of research funding for years, which would allow research like intensive dairy farm management and tropical pasture growth to be done for the first time in NSW.
"It's one of the biggest research funding announcement for NSW...it's a big deal for the dairy sector, there is no question about it and vital for long-term survival," Mr Thompson said.
NSW agriculture minister Adam Marshall said industry had asked for more investment in research and development, and that this investment would help to create new jobs and increase productivity, while also making farming businesses more resilient.
"Our farmers are a tough bunch who have shown an impressive amount of resilience over the last few years, but they're not in this alone - this Government continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with them to help prepare for the future," Mr Marshall said.
Parliamentary secretary for agriculture Michael Johnsen, said: "The combined effect of bushfires, drought and the COVID-19 pandemic reduced milk output and disrupted the supply chain which has impacted everyone, from farmers to processors, right down to consumers".
"We are now seeing industry turn around...NSW DPI data has shown profitability for 2019/20 was at the third highest level in the nine years in which farms have been monitored across the state," he said.
"It's vital we fast-track recovery, especially from last summer's bushfires which caused $15 million in losses after financial assistance to more than 60 dairy farms."
University of Sydney's DRF director professor Sergio Garcia is the project's lead, and said the collaborative program would accelerate the recovery of the drought and fire-affected NSW dairy industry, and improve farm business resilience and preparedness.
"We have termed the program '4Hs' - healthy milk, cows, systems, and people," Professor Garcia said.
"The program looks to unlock the potential of milk, cow and water to address farm underperformance, de-risk the dairy industry, and develop new markets. We hope to accelerate the sector's recovery and contribute to its future successes and profitability."
he program will be a collaborative co-investment program between government, the University of Sydney, Dairy Australia, the private sector and industry.