Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Dairy export decline

Dairy leads Victoria's agricultural exports but is facing a declining trend.

GEOFF ADAMS October 31, 2012 4:04am

Victoria’s dairy exports have steadily declined during the past five years but remain the biggest agricultural sector for the state.

About 80 per cent of all Australian dairy exports come out of Victoria, and the Murray dairy region accounts for about one third of that.

Recently released statistics show the dairy industry delivered $1.93billion of export revenue to the state economy.

But five years ago the figure was $2.3billion.

United Dairyfarmers of Victoria president Kerry Callow said the size of the export figures showed what a real powerhouse agriculture was to the state.

‘‘Farmers are delivering, not just to the state but the world, despite the challenges they’re facing.

‘‘We welcome the government’s challenge to double food and fibre production by 2030, however we need a plan on how to get there.

‘‘Government has a major role to play in helping us deliver.’’

On the five-year export decline, Ms Kellow said the export sector had been hit in recent years by the high Australian dollar.

The exchange rates had impacted sales and held the milk price down.

She said Victoria did well last year in the face of the high exchange rate and the international over-supply.

Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said dairy had topped Victorian exports as the most valuable industry to the state for the past five years.

‘‘This result shows the remarkable strength and resilience of Victoria’s dairy sector, which is an international success story despite the high Australian dollar,’’ Mr Walsh said.

‘‘Five years ago, had someone suggested that the dollar would be at parity plus, they would have predicted the doom of our export-focused dairy sector, but instead it has delivered remarkable growth.’’

The top export market during 2011-12 was China, with Victoria sending $1.86billion worth of food and fibre exports — an increase of 15 per cent on the previous year. Other major markets included Japan, worth $816million, and New Zealand, worth $484million.

Victoria now accounts for 29 per cent of Australia’s food and fibre exports.

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